FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

Tunnel Vision – You’ve been given the ability to build a magical tunnel that will quickly and secretly connect your home with the location of your choice — anywhere on Earth. Where’s the other end of your tunnel?


Yesterday morning, I might have suggested an exotic destination … Tahiti maybe or even Paris, especially if I could move through time as well as space.

But now? Today is different. We got yet another call from a friend who has discovered metastasized cancer. By accident because he has no symptoms. If this were the first or second such call, maybe it would be different, but it isn’t. Far from it. These days, there is a bell tolling in the background of our lives. It never stops.

It’s a sad bell. Haunting. It counts the living and the dead. Those who have moved away, too far to travel. Those who have mentally moved, now unavailable. Those who died and failed to leave a forwarding address. Others, whose lives are too full of other stuff, too crowded for us.

Our world grows smaller, shrinking by degrees, day by day.

crown and eagle tunnel sun rays

Like potatoes being slowly grated, life strips away layers to force us to discover the exact minimum necessary to be a life. I am afraid when the phone rings. It makes my stomach knot.

To all of you who are putting off seeing people you care about for months and years because you’re too busy, or it’s too much trouble to rearrange your schedule? Life turns on a dime. Everything changes with head-spinning abruptness. People you intended to make time for — but never got around to it? They can, without prior notice, not be there. Gone forever. Regrets are not good companions.

My tunnel?

I want one that to connect me directly to our people. To friends in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. To the other end of Massachusetts, to Connecticut and Long Island. To Maine, Colorado, Switzerland, and Cornwall. I want to pop through the tunnel and spent a few hours sipping tea, laughing, and talking. Seeing friendly eyes, listening to voices unfiltered by electronics. Not just virtual friends, images flickering on a screen, but warm-blooded friends who I can touch and hug.

That would be my magic tunnel. It would be a tunnel worth having. And keeping.

72-Bridge-RI-River_50

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….”



Categories: Friendship, poem, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. so far … my clod is still clinging …

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  2. What a beautifully written piece. “Regrets are not good companions.” Love that line. And love the photo- quite amazing

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  3. It IS a shrinking world. The number of friends or former colleagues lost just in the last few years — the last three or four years is…frankly haunting me. I know it’s part of life. It still doesn’t make acceptance any easier. Seeing Chet last September was bittersweet. I was glad I had a few “private” moments with him. We chatted, smiled and kissed each other. I knew I’d never see him again. Yesterday’s call was another sledgehammer to my heart. Phil and I have remained close over the years. He is a CLOSE friend even though we see very little of each other. The call was initially very awkward. I didn’t know what to say. Obviously, friendship took over as we shared lots of laughter around the looming truth of life. Here’s hoping I/we get to spend some time with him. He’s a gem! Yes, I am bummed out!!

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  4. So much truth in this, so much sadness. Made me teary. I am not at an age where I am losing friends to age and sickness, but more to people moving away, becoming distant in other ways. This really spoke to me and I think I need to make a point to go out of my way to connect with a few people. Thank you for this.

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    • Some of mine went very early, in their thirties. Suicides, car accidents and a few overdoses. Then the ones with genetic problems, often undiagnosed. Early heart attacks, strokes, cancer. After a while, you are less shocked than just sad. There’s nothing to be done except treasure what we have while we have it.

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  5. Have started digging at my end, but it seems there is a big pond in the way. I think what shocks me most of all are people that are celebrating their 80th bithday that I knew when they celebrated their 40th.

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  6. Sorry to hear about your friend. Cancer takes too many of us.

    My tunnel would connect to my moms. I live an hour away and since my dad died, she’s been alone too much. I wish I lived closer and worked less so I could visit her more. It breaks my heart thinking of her alone in that house.

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    • Good choice. I notice that most of us would choose a tunnel to close friends or family. The older we get, the more we realize how important they are. The attrition amongst friends is just awful. Inevitable, I suppose — but most of them are younger than we are, often a lot. Hard to accept. Hard to deal with, too.

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  7. It would be wonderful to be able to step through your tunnel and immediately be with friends no matter how near or how far. There are so many people I’ve “met” on blogs who have shared so many thoughts, memories and photos with me, it would be great to be able to actually be there and talk to them.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

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    • I know the world is supposed to be “smaller” because of airplanes and all that, but I’m finding it’s just as big as ever. Travel is expensive and difficult. Complicated. I’ve been waiting for the transporter — the “beam me up” solution, but I’ll take the tunnel. Anything but airports, security, and hauling heavy bags around endless, unfriendly airports.

      I’m sorry about our friend too. He thought he was fine. So did we.

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  8. I agree with you absolutely, Marilyn… it takes no time at all for the world to change irrevocably… it happens every second and each one might be that ‘too late’ that haunts us.

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