the underside of a tapestry

We are reminded all the time – how fragile, how fleeting these human lives.

This morning, news of an unexpected passing. He is here and then he is gone. From one moment to the next.

We spoke of him just last night.

We live with death, with impermanence, and yet, it still shocks the living. We are left, open-mouthed: Oh my god.

We try to live as if there is order, as if there is logic. As if the chaos and disorder of this universe is not the thing itself. The thing that itself creates the scattermap of our lives – in the randomness of our experiences: the events, the people, the lives we collide with and stumble into and from and through.

“Like the underside of a tapestry,” was the image given to me in my Catholic elementary school. God is weaving beautiful, rich patterns for our lives but we can only see the knots and the frayed ends; we don’t have the whole picture. Only when we join him in heaven, will the pattern be visible.

The image is lovely, but its cruelty evident. What could possibly be the point of withholding the design?

We are here, then we are gone. From one moment to the next.

This is for the people I have known. For those I have loved and who have loved me – in the large and the small ways. Who shared a bit of the journey with me. Who taught me things I needed to learn. Who were gone before I could say thank you.


Do this: Tell the people you love that you love them. With your voice, if you can, so that they can hear the love in it.

Tell them how much you try to love them better: to be kinder, more patient, more generous, but that you know that you will never be able, in this fleeting human lifetime, to adequately express the love, the gratitude that you feel for their presence, their willingness to share this journey with you, in all the ways that they do.

Tell them you could not have anticipated the ways in which they’ve brought texture and meaning and grace to you. The way they have shone light on things that were dark in you.

Tell them thank you. As if you might not be able to tell them again. Tell them thank you.