A friend, who attended the memorial service for the boy who took his life last week, gave me this poem by Galway Kinnell. I wish that something or someone could have intervened in his young life, asked him to wait, to tell him, “it does get better.” Sometimes you don’t know or realize the depth of despair or pain that someone is harboring; they may seem engaged, active and outwardly joyful. And no matter how attuned we may be as parents, we can never fully know another’s inner realities. This is the agony and dark side of individuality, love isn’t always enough to shelter those we care most about.
You can also hear Galway reading his poem here.
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.