My friend, Jack Murphy, died two days ago. He was a member of the Writers of Madison County in southwest Montana. Suffering heart problems and other ailments, he had been contemplating his own death for several years. He didn’t dwell on the subject often in his writing. Usually he wrote whimsical poetry regarding such subjects as Humpty Dumpty’s tragedy or Little Miss Muffet’s victory over that dreadful spider. Now, after he left us at a much too early age, I am drawn to his shared poems and short stories. His words take on deeper, more profound meanings. I ponder his musings. I want to call him back to us and discuss his premises. He wrote of “Limited Options” and of leaving this earth as “an empty shell, no heart, no soul, no place to dwell,” to “drift away through time and space.” I had no idea in 2009 when he published his poem, Surrender, in the Madison County Writers’ Group Anthology that he really would “go” so soon. I miss him!
It’s time to go, I hear the voice.
It’s time to go, I have no choice.
I sense a tug upon my sleeve
telling me it’s time to leave.
I am not sure I want to go.
I thought that at the time I’d know
if I was really tired of life,
the aches and pains and constant strife.
Do I have the strong resolve
or will that needed strength dissolve?
And leave me like an empty shell,
no heart, no soul, no place to dwell.
I don’t yet know if I should fight
to stick around to do what’s right
and let the natural things take place,
then drift away through time and space.
I want to bring Jack back. I want to discuss his eternal options. I can’t. He’s gone from this earth. But, I am praying that he has met his Creator and has learned that he now has the Unlimited Options of Eternity, not the “Limited Options” he anticipated in this poem. This was published in that same 2009 anthology:
I wanted to be the first to go,
make it quick, not too slow.
It does not happen, sad to say,
that life always works out that way.
But, often life does not conform,
it does not follow every norm.
Illness or accident oft is the one,
that gets the unadorned deed done.
The rules are vague, if there are rules at all,
on who will stay and who will fall.
The pain of loss is often deep
and it’s all right for you to weep.
As long as you remember, too,
the joy that they did bring to you.
The fun you had along the way,
and all the crazy games you’d play.
The loves and laughs, and serious times
that make up life and its designs.
If only we could get to choose
who exits first, who has to lose.
But, it is not our choice, you see;
it is not left to you and me.
We’ll love our lives until the end,
then ride the river around the bend.
Thus, when our final days are here
and we slip from life so dear,
We’ll drift toward that distant shore,
the lights gone, sleep now evermore.
Sleep now, dear friend, Jack Murphy. My faith wants to believe you are in the gentle, forgiving, ever-loving hands of our Savior, resting in eternal peace. I do remember “the joy you [did] bring” – and I weep with the pain of our loss. I hope to see you someday again – – – round the river’s band.