One evening, late last September I drove my daughter back to the city. After dropping her off, I went on to meet Andrew who’d asked me to bring him his sleeping bag. As I pulled up to the corner of 14th and 3rd by Duane Reade, there was Andrew, already walking towards me, and as soon as I stopped, he got into he car. After chatting for a while about this and that, I told him that the Filthy Rich Handbook that he had left behind at home, had been great for early morning bathroom reading. This funny little book talked about the homes, the cars, the planes, the yachts and more that the “filthy rich” have.
“By the way Andrew, how big is 525 feet,” I asked him, after reading that Roman Abramovich’s Yacht, Eclipse, is 525 feet long. “Is it as big as the QE2?”
“No,” Andrew said. “The QE2 is bigger.”
“Well then, what’s all the fuss? It can’t be that big.”
“Yes but,” Andrew explained. ” A 525 ft yacht is big enough to block out the sun, and The QE2 carried thousands of people.”
We laughed and joked for a while longer, then he got out of the car and went back to his dorm and I drove back home.
I often think about that night, seeing him come around the corner and saunter to the car. The cozy, happy half hour we spent together, and the fun we had talking about Abramovich’s Ship.
In the days after Andrew’s death, I’ve often turned for solace to the following poem Gone From My Sight, by Henry Van Dyke.
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…