Checklist for those dearly departing

checklist for those dearly departing

Persimmon tree photo T. Dove

I’m not dying, the old soldier told me, I’m just going on a long trip.

Well, I just started a long trip in Central America. Here’s my checklist for those dearly departing.

Lemme ‘splain. If you’re catching up, this is Don from Piedmont Pine Coffins. I’m in Costa Rica — alone for a time, before family joins — while back in NC design partner John makes the coffins. The farmstead and workshop — that land is being sold. So when I return it will be as on a page turned.

As I said, here are ten things you do before you leave alone on a long trip. Halfway through the list, it becomes something more.

Checklist for those dearly departing

  1. You settle accounts. Banks, debts. A list of passwords for important websites.
  2. You make provision for dependents. Wills, handshake deals, arrangements.
  3. You celebrate meals with friends. Those guys you played soccer with.
  4. You decide what you can carry and sell the rest.
  5. You hug and kiss the kids, the wife, the sisters, the parents.
  6. You behold your failures. Wish you’d grown more broccoli.
  7. You take one last look. Those magnificent pastures, and the two persimmon trees!
  8. You let go. Everything is halfway done, and you have to leave now anyway.
  9. You become gratitude. Your heart opens.
  10. You see the trip ahead. O the possibilities!

Someone from the greatest generation — perhaps this former soldier, or maybe it was my grandfather, another soldier — once told me: “I’m not dying, I’m just going on a long trip.” Yeah! Trip home, maybe, or trip out and away to who knows what next adventure.

To all of us on the journey —  still on this side or over to the other yonder — I say

May the road bend to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and may the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may sweet heaven hold you in the hollow of its hand.