Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle in that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light” in a poem when his father died. It remains the great mystery, death, and when someone we love dies, the sorrow is great. When the person is young, the sorrow is still great and the sense of tragedy is even greater. There are no real words to comfort, and no actions that can end the loss, but it is what we do in any case – offer words and actions to get through the grief.
Lukas Pender was just 16 and in the last year was just becoming himself, growing into his own unique skin. He had come out of a shell and more and more was engaged in the world around him, and engaged others in that world. He talked about college and about going to next year’s national Unitarian Universalist conference, General Assembly. He learned more and more about a wide range of music; he drew and made collages.
And now only the memory of him is left and the effect he had on those around him. It is just unutterably sad and grief will spin out its course over a long, long time – for his family, probably forever. In time, the constant and deep pain and sorrow will lessen, but the loss will be forever there.
So it matters a great deal to remember and honor the joy Lukas brought into this world. Remember his special gifts, his hopes and his dreams, for they are our hopes and dreams too. It is important to gather together to bear up those whose loss is the keenest, to listen and to hold, to be present to still a bit of the loneliness.
We humans may be unique in how much we grieve, and we can be unique in an equal amount of caring and compassion. Lukas, like all us as some point, has entered that good night, but the light can still shine in our lives.