The Next Room

In my previous post about the death of Robert Jordan, I mentioned that he had stepped into the next room. I wasn't familiar with that turn of phrase until the passing of my step-mother. Her good friend spoke at her memorial service, and she read aloud a piece that mentioned this idea. But that was several years ago, and I have only that vivid image in my memory. The name and everything had faded.

After some internet investigation, I uncovered the full passage:

Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way that you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval,somewhere very near, just round the corner.

All is well.

-- Henry Scott Holland

Now I'm not a religious person. I'm spiritual to a degree and after a fashion. But even if I put all of that aside, there is something poignant and fundamental from this idea that our passing is merely a transition into the next. That death should not diminish us, even though it causes sadness. That we are better for knowing the people we know and knew. And that their finality is not an end if we celebrate who they were and what they meant to us.

I'm reminded of the series finale of Six Feet Under entitled Everyone is Waiting. As if to say everyone who has passed is in the next room. Ready to ask how we've been. I imagine Darlene, my grandfather, and even RJ himself entertaining each other with jokes, sitting around a small table, an intimate and quiet affair. I peek in on them and smile to myself. Such characters. They'll be in there till all hours of the night.

And off to bed I go, knowing that they still have life. That they'll be saving a seat for me one day. And that we'll carry on, as if only time had passed, and nothing more.


Lorrie said...

Beautiful post, Chris. Thank you for writing it.

Anonymous said...

That is simply beautiful! And what a lovely idea that we are just in the next room or merely a "breath away" (as Josh Groban puts it). Having just lost my sister to cancer on 14/3/09, I found this idea to be so comforting and really beautful. Thanks for your belief.

JJ said...

thankyou for posting this in here. i was only hours ago thinking of this verse which was read out at my mothers funeral. And looked for it. thankyou.x