So Long As You Shall Live

I spoke to an elderly man recently, and he told me he was ready, his good suit was pressed and the organ music selected, but he worried he might not be remembered. He had written no books that someone might come across a hundred years hence and bring him to life again, however briefly. He had written no music, given no speeches, and even his children and grandchildren, he thought, might not remember him as he was, or remember him at all. He took a folded, well worn piece of paper from his wallet. “I read this every once in a while,” he said, handing it to me. “Know it by heart.” I began to read, but his quavering voice intruded, as he recited it from memory.

A thousand days, a thousand years
It matters not my friend
You’re gone when gone, despite the tears
But it is not the end
So long as one remembers you
So long that you shall live
A thousand years, a day or two
Whatever God shall give
Or if not God, the universe
Shall see that we survive
In truth, my friend, there’s nothing worse
Than being not alive

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