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Archive for the ‘Memorials’ Category

John and Norma…it was meant to be. Not one in a million…one in billions. And yet there they were for the duration. Though nobody knows for sure what the duration will be ahead of time, but the intent is there for more decades than we are sometimes gifted. The granting of one love and that set of vows is the real gift…One set of lives together…then the addition of family, little lives out of combined souls. It is indeed an enviable accomplishment. John and Norma…plus Jason and Jeremy. Priceless.

John was called to service, to duty, to sea. While his home was at times on the waves near lands and countries where the winds of change were in need of stern encouragement…But the real rudder and true North stayed home upon land. I speak of course of Norma. And while others waited for flags and masts to emerge from beyond the horizon, Norma kept the home fires burning. And she contributed her part as liaison between those out to sea and the faithful souls in wait of a port busy once more with vessels and loved ones home safe again. Perhaps today she serves as ombudsman between the ones left earthbound, and with God there on her heavenly shore…

I have thought a great deal about the dedication, the faithfulness of both of them, about faith and fears, and the strength that comes from the successful passing of as many missions and separations for extended periods. The times John spent out at sea reminds me of some words spoken by a late President when I was but three years old…Recently it has taken on a new, deeper meaning…

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.” (JFK)

This lends then to my vision of our young couple living at a distance with many miles of land and oceans between them, and yet the elements JFK referred to also lent to keeping them together with the common bonds offered by the saltiness of the swells that supported crafts on the waters, of the tears on both ends of reaching bow and safe harbor. The salt from the sweat of labor and battle…and in times of anxious waiting. Elements  on both ends that brought the salty sea into the hearts at home, and the promises and comforts of home to places beyond the horizon where patriots travel in duty to country, and in hope of coming home.

Although Norma’s departure to a different sort of sea was untimely and equally unexpected, she is none the less afloat on a sea of a celestial sort, somewhere beyond the horizon, beyond the place where ocean meets the sky. Somewhere down the road, John will arrive at that place…past the spot where a river crosses over the bar. A place where the line between heaven and earth become one. A place where a living soul waits, and a departed soul beckons to beyond the shore and one waiting there.

Matthew Landsman 03-04-2012

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My buddy Steve the word smith. He had a way with words for sure…When word of a difficult future was given him in summer 2009, the doctor was frank and to the point. Blunt in fact. So was Steve…As I recall, he said something along these lines…”Doctor, have you ever heard of a place called Rainier Oregon? Folks from Rainier are tough. Folks there don’t take any spit.  (He didn’t say spit…but I would be roasting over one if I said what he did say, in here)  And neither do I …I am Steve Keith, I’m a logger from Rainier Oregon, no matter what you tell me, I’m not gonna go down without a fight.

That was Steve. My buddy Steve would have made a good Marine, in times of old; a classic gunfighter. He rarely showed fear, he faced it…he shared it, he weighed it…and all the while, he was looking out for those around him. He protected most souls from his dilemma.

Steve and I talked for hours over the months…I never saw him again in person after July 2009, but the memory and vision of who he was will remain intact, untarnished, and not frozen in time, but saved vignettes over time, moments of laughter, of bravery, of frailty, and honesty and brutal truths.

Steve was happy with the state of all things except the obstacles he faced. They were an inconvenience to his plans and aspirations. But at the same time; a catalyst to reach out to family, to friends, to the past, to things unknown…to seek a little validation, and to deliver the same to those deserving of it.

Steve shared with me some reflections of attitudes that were changing inside of him regarding simple everyday activities like a trip to the store, a drive to a place that was previously insignificant and mundane, Steve told me that to wake up every morning and feel his wife next to him was a gift. That he knew his remission was a miracle not afforded many. That every moment of every day was not only a gift, but an opportunity to mend, to rediscover things overlooked. In truth, there was indeed a moment that it appeared a reprieve might have granted him a greater deal of time than it turned out as actually so. But still he chose to maintain his fresh appreciation of life and lives, as well as his dedication to making the same life and lives better and more memorable. Treasures in fact. This entire journey made him a better soul…a more complete and passionate human.

Steve had left behind the tools of his trades, the need for trudges through the muddy woods, for early morning drives to sites where building rose and grew through sweat and sinew…to fulfill and bring to reality another’s dreams. In place of the duties, there were the pleasures of not only performing reparations to personal properties, but too to life and souls. Steve engaged instead in bridge building and fence mending, pothole filling and patching leaky roofs.

He built a family out of the one born long ago but never quite melded as a cohesive unit. He built bridges over ravine and stream. Over time, proverbial rain and spiritual winters can erode and wash away and otherwise consume the proverbial earth that connects people. Minor crossings in ankle deep brooks can become crevasse and canyon, impassable without a conscious effort to bridge the gap   He mended fences to contain the flock and protect the newly formed bonds between those he loved and who he hoped might always love one other.

And perhaps over the passing of time, there may have been many storms of wind and rain, with a steady drip from a leaky shake or shingle leaving puddle and pool on a floor indoors…but no one tends to think about patching a roof in  the midst of August sunshine. So too are the tendencies of life, and Steve began to realize that one day when  the rains returned, he might not be able to contain the drips and drafts…So he opened ladder and toolbox…and tended to things before the gathering of storm and clouds…and he slept better with the knowing things had been tended to…

And along the rocky road that he had become accustomed to; he became aware that not only a well placed shovel of fill, but a slower pace would smooth the passage, and would also add to an appreciation of the sights along the way…a realization that the gift is as much in the journey as it is the destination…

It has occurred to me, that while readying for his passage to the next phase of his being, Steve chose to not leave a void where his physical presence left off…but to instead gift his children and extended family something tangible and certain…Each other…He made the best of what already exists in the hearts of each of them, and through carefully orchestrated desires and the innate need for a common and collective belonging…in a few short words…Family…mended, blended and lovingly; extended.

In our last meaningful conversation, Steve and I talked of his days in school. Of his time on the courts, fields, and diamonds. Steve was a capable athlete. I’m not sure if his abilities were as much God given as they were a cultivated result of his great work ethic, abundant desire, and a supportive love not only of victory…but of team and a desire to share in the joy of collective celebration among peers and friends. Steve mentioned on more than one occasion of being assigned a play to both end and to win a game. Along with a basket that sealed the win for his team; Steve carried the honor of faith in his ability to carry the moment, for the rest of his life. It helped that he made the shot when his number was called of course…but that was a definitive and character building moment that he took with him. Thanks Coach Doumit

We also talked of his days as a logger. That while not being a part of a sizable operation; the inherent hard work and related perils were no less present. Steve never shied away from tasks and effort demanding days…Even when the end of days was at hand. True to his character and place in the world to the very end…My friend Steve.

Now…In your mind, if you walk to a spot, between Vernonia and Mist…find an old stand of elderly Doug firs…mixed with cedar and pine, berries and fern…near a stream and a place where tall tales begin…A place where you might convene with the memory of long idle saws, muddy corks and long days fighting the brush and cursing the rain…And ask the age old question of whether a tree falling in a place with no one about makes any sound at all…and should you listen closely, you will hear a familiar voice flowing after the cutoff of a long barred  saw…and indeed you’ll hear a warning of “tree coming down”, then a crack of green timber, and the landing’s sounds…followed by a Friday afternoon happy declaration…when Steve declares, “it’s five o`clock on my watch…let’s shut it all down…quittin time boys…”  That, my friends is the sound of a tree falling, when no one’s around…

I am compelled to remind the lot of you, and myself, to not end a day with anger lingering between you and others. If you need a hug, give one. If you need a kind word, speak one. If you harbor a broken heart, mend one. If you feel a song in your heart, put out your hand and dance with someone. If you need an apology, make one. You get but one chance at a last impression, one time to say farewell…each night you lay your head down to rest might mark that last opportunity.

Folks have all heard a song in which the question is asked, “what if tomorrow never comes?” Even if you perish tonight; tomorrow will still come. It will come to everyone you leave behind, and they will have only the final impression and whatever unfinished moments to live with for the duration. Be sure you do right by them, that they know they are loved, and had a fresh hug on your parting ways. Tomorrow always comes…treat it with care.

I will end my words today, with the words I heard from Steve at the end of nearly every conversation over the past couple years……I love you brother…and call me anytime.

Matthew Lyle Landsman 06/17/2011

 

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After sixty one years, the life that accompanied mine no longer shares the morning coffee, the news of the day, or a conversation long after the day has passed. She no longer stirs the pot I momentarily forgot…fills the ice tray I left nearly empty. She is no longer the soul breathing quietly there on the pillow next to mine…

I’ll still talk to her, and reach for her hand when I stroll. I’ll still snatch a rose from a bush down the way; sing her a line from a special song. I’ll stir my coffee quietly, and tuck my shoes away…just in case she is still lingering somehow.  I’ll want to always please her…to take away the evening chills…to find a way to kindly tease her. I’ll still keep my promises, and after sixty one years, my vows still remain. My attentions and intentions are the same.

I have often said I’d like to live yet another eighty eight years. I have a feeling I will be re-living the last sixty or so every day from now on.  The thought of her still makes me smile, still makes me proud, and still accompanies my thoughts from the waking moment to the midnight’s dreams…

I’ll breathe in her essence, and exhale her laughter…again and again…until there are no longer moments…no longer breaths. Till there are no more promises left to be kept, no more roads to follow, no songs left to sing…And then, and then, and then…she’ll fill my cup, and my hand…with hers, my heart with her pulse, my mind with her poetry and prose…my eyes with the creations and senses there in the canvas, parchment, pen and ink, palette and brush…and from her imagination.

And from across a crowded room, I will again seek her warmth, her steps softly accompanying mine…and again there will be tears, but of joy this time.  And while others bid adieu to he who has been missing her, I will be looking again into those eyes, listening to the quiet welcoming behind those familiar sighs…we will again be young…and old all at once.

Familiar, yet fresh and full of youthful anticipation…I will finish saying what you begin, and as before…I‘ll cling to your every word. For now, I’ll keep you close in my heart, until again you’re close at hand…

Written in honor of my friend Ben, by Matthew

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Just wanted you to know…I’m doing better now. I want to explain some things and hope it helps. I know its all been very hard.

I went on to heaven, a little at a time. I didn’t want to leave you all, all at once.

But in the process, there was a lot of misplacing memories, a lot mistaking faces…There was a lot of letting go…a lot of holding on…But all my precious memories made it here…a little at a time.

It might have seemed to some of the younger ones that I’d forgotten who you were…maybe I thought you were someone else…your parent, or an aunt or uncle.  Let me tell you how this works. The memories I hold inside were sent on ahead of me…a few at a time. If you were younger, there were fewer for me to have gathered in such little time. So if it seemed I’d forgotten you first, oh little one…that’s just not so. The recollections of our precious moments together already waited for me here when I would finally arrive.
Like I said, I went on to heaven a little at a time…and the things I’d known the longest simply took a little longer to be gathered and carried on ahead.

The last things to go were the first things I came to know…the music of my youth, the day of my first bicycle ride…And my first sweetie…my only one…Perhaps a brother, my mom and dad who’d gone on ahead.  All of this stayed the longest there with all of you and me till the end. Older memories take longer to shake loose and be readied for the journey. But all of it was, in the end, sent on to heaven…a little at a time.

As for the moments I spoke to those already gone on ahead…It wasn’t you to whom I directed my words…They were here where I am now, and we convened and they beckoned me to this place, and helped take care of the memories till I retrieved them.  They are all here and called me home as I made that journey…a little at a time.

In the end, I know I was old and it seemed I knew little, as my memories were already here where I am now.

And in the end, I knew you’d gather on a weekend, and I hoped the sun would shine…And a little at a time, I hoped you’d forgot how it was in the end, and that you too would begin to see things the way I had…and recall when I, and you too, were younger…and those gone on were still around…And a little at a time, I hoped you too will begin to forget how things were for a while.

I love all of you, and all our times so much you know…that is the reason for the long goodbye. There are so many memories and they can only be sent on…a little at a time.

And I hope that when I send the memories of me in happier times down for you to recall on holidays and evenings when a fire is needed to keep warm…I hope that you recall, a little at a time…the movies without special effects, the music and private dances on a worn living room floor…And I hope you one day realize that the memories of my sweetie were the hardest for me to let go and be sent on ahead to wait for me… the last for me to know…and when the music ended, and I last let go your hand…I only had to wait a little while, to join all my memories again.

My heart is full, and I can now recall every moment you thought I’d forgotten…and it is you now that will begin to lose track of the detail. It is you who will polish and preserve just the warmest of them all…And a little at a time, you‘ll realize, that soon, we’ll dance again…and one by one…we’ll all get together.  I’ll be there waiting for you one
and all…to reunite you with your memories, that were sent here…a little at a time.  I will see some of you here all at once, but mostly…I’ll be waiting for the rest of you as you are sent here as was I, a little at a time…

Matthew L Landsman

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I got the call for kickstands up a little sooner than the rest.

I’m ridin on ahead…I’ll meet you all up the road.

Off in the distance, you’ll hear the twins report.

And you’ll wonder who’s off ridin…

It’s me.

I got a new patch today…like you’ve never seen before,

hand sewn by an angel just outside of heaven’s door.

I let ‘er idle and had a cold one with Peter right there at the gates…

He told me “son you’re gonna love this ride…all your brothers here heard you got
the call…Kickstand up  biker brother, they’re waitin just around the bend…”

They’re the spirit of the Patriot Guard,

The wipe of your brow after a real close call.

I’m with ‘em now, lookin’ out for you,

for when you next hear the highway beckon you…

I’m the straight shots you’ll hear up over the next rise,

a tail light you’ll never quite catch up to…

I’m the angel next to you when you take to the left and pass a long tandem.

Raise your glasses,

get off your asses.

Kickstands up all…

You take my smile with you…

But I’ve ridden on ahead.

I’m getting the place ready for a ride one day when you get the call…

But don’t hurry on my account. You’ll get your patch soon enough.

There’s a great group up here…and it’s always warm…

No matter where we ride, it’s always ahead of the storm.

And ever so often we’ll gather up around that bend…

and say “kickstands up all…the ride’s just startin’,

and Peter’s welcoming an old friend.”

Note:      In biker speak:

“straight shots” are exhaust pipes with no muffler.

“twins report” is the sound from twin exhaust pipes

“a patch” goes on a cyclist’s leather vest

“kickstands up” means that if a group is meeting for a ride, the time the group starts the
ride. (If scheduled to start at 10 a.m., the kickstands go up at 10 a.m. and the ride starts).

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I have always called him Little Terry. It is a term of endearment. Terry came to be a part of my life over 21 years ago. I was young, he was younger. I think we came to be friends quickly…He was dynamic, full of world-changing ideas. He was filled with a soul that defied his few years among us, yet youthful and brimming with wide eyed wonder all at once. He was an honorary big guy in a not-so-large body.

Terry was a fisherman.  He loved the search…the ritual of the chess game between him, the waters, the winds, the weather, the light, the currents, and of course, the fish.

Not long after our meeting, Terry found himself having to prove himself a worthy adversary, not unlike the fish he tried so hard to lure, hook, and draw from the depths beyond the bank or the bow. I witnessed him facing adversity of health, of career, of human frailty, of potentially spirit-sapping misfortune…Terry used these rough patches as incentive to fight against the metaphoric hook and line that seemed to be attempting to reel and steal him away from a good life, a productive life, a normal life… and at times, away from life itself.

But Terry, being a fisherman himself, was well aware of the tactics of the adversary that threatened his own life journey. At times, it seems he had been caught unaware and was nearly hooked and dragged from this world. But as a fighter of the good fight, he always managed to break free, to cheat his moment of fate time and again. Terry fished, and learned from it and grew wiser and wilier through it all.

I felt Terry looked up to me. I used to think I mentored him, set an example, encouraged and incited hope in him. He admired my stature, longed to be my height…to tote the loads I could muster at our place of work. I used to think he wanted to be more like me.

But in truth, Terry taught ME about toughness, about strength, about perseverance, and about overcoming long odds. He taught me about a lot of things after I got to know him. He rarely had two breaks in a row, yet even in the midst of rough times, he rarely missed a beat when it came to friendship. I learned resilience and was inspired profoundly by his will. I soon became an admirer of his, and ours became a friendship of mutual respect and admiration.

I have heard it said that if you feed a man a meal, you feed him for a day. But if you teach him to fish, you can help him to feed himself for a lifetime. Terry was my friend, and he was a teacher in his own right. Terry’s life taught me that life is like fishing…that it is at times heartbreaking, tough, and often leaves a soul hungry and empty-handed. But he also taught me that there is always another day, another spot that holds promise…that there is reason why it is called “fishing” and not “catching.”

It took me all these years to understand he had, in fact, been mentoring me all along. He showed me that a fish could care less if its opponent was taller, stronger, or any other number of self-appreciating traits. He taught me that one needs patience, desire, fair breezes, and a willingness to find that simple joy is in the fishing itself, even when there is little or no catching going on.

To be sure, there have been many occasions when Terry has been caught himself, and perhaps battered, but never outfoxed and landed. He was as much a wily old fish as he was crafty old fisherman.

Terry did finally get beat at his own game, but he did so while planning his next day of fishing. John Lennon said that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I find myself needing to amend that thought with another…while you’re busy making your plans, the Good Lord may be making his own plans for you. In which case, should God’s plans come to fruition, the conclusion of life may be what happens. Evidently, the Lord needed a fishing buddy, so he called on Terry to cast a line out with him.

There was much more to Terry than fishing, but then there is also much to be learned from the simple act of casting a line over water and sending a seeking hook into the depths. Every day we cast out our intentions and aspirations over the water, and every day the life beyond this one is casting out its own, in search of all of us…luckily, we usually elude the bait and tackle for the better part of ten decades…although some simply can’t evade the inevitable but for a short while.

To sit and remember the good old days, one has to have once lived them. And we should be thankful always…even for what was in the past, or has simply been taken away in an untimely fashion. To have been blessed with a gift even if only briefly, is still a blessing…even when it is viewed in retrospect.

I think that Terry might have felt the following regarding his life:

I have fished the very river that has heard my confessions, absorbed my tears, nourished my body, and quenched my thirst for water and for life. The river has become a part of me, and one day soon I hope to become a part of the river itself. I will take parts of you with me to the river I love so. I will see all of you again somewhere down the road. In the meanwhile, I will fondly peer out along the banks of that river and hope to feel you there. I hope you feel my spirit too…

With the last of my breath having left me, the sum of my treasure will be entombed in my stilled heart, and assembled there at my resting place. I hope the assembly is large, and glad to have known me. I hope the bounty of their personal treasure is swelled with my contribution, and that they too see the value is in the life we live and not piled about your properties.

If there is a twinge of an empty feeling that finds you when a cool breeze sends a chill, or when a line in a movie sends you to a desolate place inside, it is just Terry paying you a momentary visit.

Terry has joined with those already gone on ahead of him. He will see the rest of you at the grandest reunion of all. You’ll find him fishing…wearing a baseball cap and vest…nursing a can of something cold, with a pinch of something behind his lip…and a bucket of pan-sized small mouth to fry up for you later on. His hands will be filled with rod and reel, his face will wear a smile…and his heart will be at peace there by the shore of that river. Be happy for him…

As for me, I’m going down to the bank of that river, I’m gonna cast my line out over the swells, and hope for lot of fishing, and regardless of whether I get a bite or not…I will be glad and thankful to simply be convening with the spirit of Terry while he sits next to me there, healthy again, and whole once more…casting out his own line…not just to pass the time, but to make the passing of time a gift, and a lesson on how life ought to be lived…patient, thoughtfully, and with eager anticipation of the nibble or strike at the hook.

Terry is off fishing, he’ll be fine.

Thank you Terry for teaching me to fish and, in turn, how to live life.

Vía con dios my friend.

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Hi Boo…I just went to the bank and got out a few of the dollars the job put there. I noticed the avenue by my house was full of cars and folks walking to an unknown destination.  It had to be more than just a yard sale as the volume of the pilgrimage was too large. I saw an estate sale sign as I rounded the corner and headed to the bank.

I walked over there after I got home…to a place a half a block away at the end of a cul-de-sac, nestled among tall trees and rounded drives. I have lived in the neighborhood for eleven years and had never ventured, nor even really looked down that drive. I figure these folks had wanted and earned their privacy. Yet
I ventured down the drive today, curious…

I’m sorry I went.

I feel as though I violated sacred ground…felt my skin crawl a little.  I saw the books and tools, the diversity of life…the places traveled, the art, the worn pan in which she cooked his eggs…the coffee cup over which a soul
pondered the morning and day ahead…the sources of music that may have
accompanied private dances.  I trod upon worn floors that kids, and likely grandkids, had learned to crawl, then walk upon.  I saw a corner with an easy chair and a desk where a lifetime of bills were paid…a collection of ancient tools and instruments with which a living was made.

I saw a house…a beautiful home…a place where lives and loves had grown.  I saw a collection of dusty testimonials to the wondrous circle of life which we are all in the midst of…and I felt both full and empty. I tiptoed through the rooms, aware I was practically treading upon a grave…or an impromptu shrine that was being looted by bargain hunters…

And I thought of my own family…the great house and home my parents shared and cared in…and I thought of you too…then I kept my money where it belonged, tucked away…and instead said a prayer that in the end, my parents’ lives are honored and validated with a little more dignity…

I walked away from that house a slightly shaken and wiser man…and finished the coffee with which this whole journey began.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

August 22, 2008

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Dylan Thomas wrote:

“Do not go gentle into that good night.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Just after dawn on this relay morning I woke up with that line in my head…woke up with the recent memories of the luminary lighting ceremony, the benediction prayer, the soft strains of “Amazing Grace” sung by Penny…the team leaders carrying the flames that moments later would illuminate the names of loved ones who had fought and either won, lost, or were continuing to fight the good fight against their cancer.

In the time during the struggle my family endured alongside my stricken mother, and the time that has passed in the following years, I came to realize that the patient isn’t the only soul who is forever affected by the indiscriminate nature of cancer. I have been forever touched inside, by not only the loss inflicted by this worst of all diseases, but by the loss of innocence it forces upon us, the loss of sleep it continues to impose on those left behind, and the loss of understanding we search for to somehow justify the senseless suffering that cancer imposes on the victims, the family members, friends, neighbors, and caregivers, both young and old.

Last evening I witnessed a collective raging against the dying of the light…a glow encircling the track not unlike a halo of defiance sending out the message that, despite the heartlessness of the beast, a gathering of names, of stories, of prayers, and of faithful travelers in the still of evening spoke out against the forces of darkness.  We will not go gently into that good night. We will bring our own light; a message of will and determination to break the cycle of impending darkness, of deprivation and sorrow, the anger and time stolen from our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

So we assemble in a show of oneness and undying determination against the never resting cycle of degradation and deprivation of life and lives consumed by this demon called cancer. And we vow to carry our vigil from dusk, thru the spell of darkness, until we all emerge again in the light of the infant dawn. We are a collection of friends and strangers with a kindred spirit and a common bond. We form a family of veterans in the good fight to end this relentless march of darkness looming from beyond the shadows and staring down upon us all.  We are an eclectic combining of individual candles shimmering into a collective raging flame of diligent souls who “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Shortly after the silent lap and as the stadium lights were still doused, I stood at the side of a stranger, peering into the candlelit night and up into the bleachers at the side of our battleground. From a vantage point to left of the bleachers, I could easily make out the word “HOPE” spelled out in assembled luminary bags in front of me.  But the next word appeared as a menagerie of glowing bags without reason or definition. The stranger there with me offered up the explanation that the second word was “hard to see”, but that it read “CURE”.

At that very moment my poet’s heart recognized the gravity of the moment, the irony of the jumbled word eluding my understanding…just as the cure itself lies somewhere out there still…in another collection of nights…other relays…in the misty light of a long awaited and very welcome dawn. Or perhaps cure will debut as flashes of blinding lightning bolts in the velvety midnight sky. Until that day, we will have to rely on each other for the light, lean on God for the light, resort to the lingering light of the memories of our loved ones lost to the celestial discharge. Before the cure becomes a reality, rather than a hard-to-decipher encryption in the metaphoric bleachers before us in a hope-filled night in June, we will continue to circle the track to join hearts, hands, prayers, voices and share stories.

Harry Chapin used to sing of life being “a circle with no clear-cut beginnings, and so far; no dead ends.”  He spoke of having a “funny feeling that we’ll all get together again.”  In the case of our yearly relay and the reasons for our holding it, Harry’s words were sadly prophetic. I love the camaraderie of this annual event. I look forward to us all gathering to reminisce our loved ones lost, of the battles won by survivors, and to just share in the essence of knowing the experience as we do.  But I mostly look forward to being able to look back in retrospect on the day when cures to the multitudes of cancers were found…when our diligence was rewarded with success and we are able to honor the loss of our loved ones with validation of our efforts to find those cures. Right now the circle of cancer in our lives is presenting us with far too many dead ends, and the discovery of the illness presents us with stark and solemn clear-cut beginnings. I join all of you in hoping that the only dead ends we find are the ends of a search for the cure…to the beginning of gathering in celebration and looking on our June gatherings in retrospect, rather than as a vigil continued.

Until then, I will join you in providing the light after darkness falls, in the circling of the track, in the joining of hearts, prayers, voices and well intentions…to rage against the dying of the light…and the circles in our lives ending with sorrow rather than continuing with jubilation. I am honored to join you all in the good fight, and to not go gentle in that good night, but to continue fighting until the dawn brings us victories and validations for the lives perished and rewards us for nights of sleep lost…

Be well, and continue to relay, until we need relay no more.

June, 16, 2007   Matthew Lyle Landsman

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Matthew L Landsman

10/02/2001 0`dark:30
In regard to 9-11-2001

Empty chairs at the tables of

one thousand homes — times six.

Pillows lie on beds,

forever to be cold.

Hearts that wait for a calming word,

souls longing for someone to hold.
I have been there.

To the summit of that pair of pillars

reaching so amazingly high.

I stood in wide-eyed wonder

at the city’s towering gems.

Now I stare in disbelief

at an empty space in the Apple’s sky.
I find solace in knowing that the scores of those lost souls

were lifted straight to a better place –

by the collective prayers of the witnessing world.

It’s true that tears have yet to subside…

true there are more that will be cried.

It’s true that so much we knew

will never be the same.

But I also know that with turning of the leaves

comes the day of Thanksgiving –

for the memories of our newest angels…

for the knowing that, while for so many,

there’d be no going home,

still God sent to them his most special…

in uniforms of blue,

and fighters of fires…

from outside the bounds of harm,

from the masses left behind…

Sent in…

so they would know

they weren’t to perish abandoned, unescorted or forgotten

I believe too, that beneath the fallen structures

opened a crevasse of fire and discontent,

vows to immediately deliver the doers of evil,

the terminators of meant-to-be-peaceful flights,

straight into the bowels of hell.
And too, the souls of unintended fate

were raised as quickly to a celestial journey’s end,

accompanied and tended to by those

we were taught as children were our protectors, our heroes…our friends.
Those of us that remain will long struggle to find the meaning of it all.

The vision of what will balance, then overcome and

topple the self elevated mongers of hate

to their deserved fate – still eludes me.
I cannot know the specifics,

except that the believers of what is good and closer to Godliness will

in the end prevail.

By the rising up of spirit, faith and oneness

of our unseen friends – I feel a surge of awareness,

of determination and strength,
born of sorrow, shock, anger, fear, love and compassion.

There has begun a healing,

both of the scars left on the land and the division of good people,

for reasons that now seem petty and self-absorbed.

Already, good has risen from the ashes;

new vows of reparation have

emerged from amid the smoldered flames.

I hope the world will never be the same

as it was before that day.

I hope we can love one another more deeply,

be sincere in our greetings and farewells.

I pray that Christmas and other faith-filled days

can see a return to their roots – and linger past the designated days.
The souls departed need to know that beyond our efforts to

deny the tormentors satisfaction from their deeds –

that true good can be derived from the

sadness and the

madness of it all.

Mostly, what we need is hope.

We can only find it in each other,

no matter who or where we are.

Like the man said, “Come together”…

I don’t want this generation to lose its own version of what was our “Camelot”.

Hey God…We could use a little help down here…okay?

Matthew Lyle Landsman

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