When Ghandi died, I was unborn. And my heart was unaffected. The sun passed below the horizon, red, and so tired, on the Indian subcontinent.
When Kennedy died, I was a child, and my sphere was small and untouched. I remember the principal on the school intercom, the footage of the motorcade, and LBJ taking the oath…with Jacqueline standing next to him. I looked around at the adults in my world. Their eyes were red and they tried to explain it to me, but they faltered and were unconvincing. And the sun passed below the horizon in Texas.
When King died, I was lost in the self-absorbed me of adolescence. Yet I knew that something bigger than me had taken place. On the evening news, I heard the words streaming out of the tubed black and white television. The news anchor’s eyes, which could barely contain each week’s pain of the death count in Vietnam…his eyes became red and I thought I saw a tear. No, I was sure of it. The sun passed below the skyline of Memphis.
Today, the sun passed below the dusty horizon on the African continent. The last rays barely warmed the country of South Africa. The fading light removed from the sky of a Soweto township, as oil lamps were lit and began to flicker. I swallowed hard through a constricted throat, in a way I had never gulped the fragility of death.
When Mandela died…
Jeffrey Post-Holmberg is a contributing writer for River Notes Blog on the Two Rivers Counseling website. When he is not practicing tonglen in his couples counseling sessions, he is trying to understand what it means when great people are born, change the world, then pass into the mists of eternity.