Facing the Past Tense

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die. (Mary Frye)

Fifty years of friendship feels like only a moment yet it has been a lifetime.  It cannot be over. Not yet. I want Laziness 010514the conversation to continue but mostly, I want the past tense to be the present.

In death, the past tense looms. My mostly Buddhist self believes the past tense is a series of images always available for viewing but never again for experiencing.

I am not used to the past tense. I am not ready to live with my friend as mere memory.

If I think of my friend as dead, there is a hole in the sky that is my heart. I want to tell her how that feels, how that hole is now my world. The telephone that connected us as we aged from teenagers to sexagenarians is no longer in service. It is past tense.

In the last couple years, this blog provided yet another connection for us.  Sometimes, my posts sparked conversations, and other times, our conversations created posts. On this blog, my friend is eternally present.

Discussion was our way for five decades, not a daily occurrence or even monthly, but whenever there was a hole in the sky for either one of us we seemed to sense it. There would be a phone call or an email when least expected and most needed.

My friend was not one who labeled but one who listened. Her innate compassion and loving-kindness opened her to the world wherever she was. And the world responded to her light.


Along the wend and way of our lives, we each explored Buddhism and over the decades offered our experiences to one another. In these last three years when illness once again marked my life and then for the first time hers, we found ourselves less concerned with outcome and more with exploring the energy of raw emotion.

We were less interested in questions so we had little use for any answer that might appear for we recognized all outcome as temporary. It kept us curious, this being in the moment. We explored eternity as a web without a weaver, its vibrations animating humans, blades of grass–lifetime after lifetime–perfect in its impermanence, forever coming and going.

She is gone in a way I knew and exists in a way I am yet to know.  She is in every breeze, blossom, and glint of light in a night sky. She is. The past tense is no more.

My thanks to Diana J. Hale for her recent post, In Memoriam, as it led me to Mary Frye’s poem, which I could not seem to locate.  Also, thanks to all of you who have sent personal messages. I will respond to each one.

22 thoughts on “Facing the Past Tense

  1. Fifty years of friendship is a long time–and a tremendous treasure–and, nonetheless, too soon to be losing a dear friend. My heart goes out to you. I love the way you put it:
    “She is gone in a way I knew and exists in a way I am yet to know. ”
    Wisdom in those words.


  2. Such a touching tribute, and your friend most certainly lives on in your heart, and through this blog that sparked your conversations and your conversations that sparked posts. Thank you for sharing, and may your heart know peace. with love, Gina


  3. Just listening with compassion and loving-kindness, K. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing this amazing spirit that existed when two became one. {{{tender hugs}}} Kozo


    1. Thank you for capturing the idea of what we were when we came together for your words say it beautifully, Kozo. I keep your words close in great appreciation.


  4. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss, Karen. Friends like this one do indeed leave holes in our lives when they are no longer here to keep us company in the now. This is a really beautiful tribute to her and to the friendship you shared. I’m sending love and hugs your way as you grieve this loss.


    1. I am so grateful for all of our conversations, especially these last four years for we seemed to make the best of the time but then, I think we always did. I am amazed at how the conversations keep replaying, and, of course, I am grateful. Thanks, Kenetha.


  5. Karen, my heart breaks for you and your loss. I wish I had the perfect words to help you through this hard time, but you know best how to keep your friend in your heart. (((HUGS))) my friend.


    1. It really feels as if she is always with me, although it is different, yet I know for as long as I am here, there will be a connection. Thanks, Dona.


  6. Oh Karen, I do feel as you do. Thank you for expressing these thoughts so beautifully for me, and it is so cheering to know you were moved by that poem too. Best wishes, Diana


    1. I had all but given up looking for the poem, deciding that I could not clear my head enough to remember lines, and then I saw your “In Memoriam” post. I’ll let you imagine that moment. It means a great deal to me that this post captured your feelings. That has given me great comfort. Thank you, Diana. You know I think of you.


  7. A beautiful tribute to a lifelong friend and as always, your words moved me. What a wonderful thing to have such an amazing connection in this lifetime and your practice will help you find her spirit in many things. Wishing you peace and many blessings as you continue on the path. Be well, my friend.


  8. What a beautiful, sad, joyous post. We are at that time of life when we are suddenly surprised by the thinning of our ranks. How could our friends be departing? Could it be that we have grown old while watching the sky change color? The spirit never keeps up with the body. The spirit does not celebrate birthdays and so it will always be surprised by the changes in a body that does. Thank God we have the company of our memories.


    1. There is such comfort in all that we were, gratitude for knowing such a love for such a long time. As you say, it is wonderful company. Thanks, Adrian.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.