Sometimes things do not go as we plan, sometimes the worst does happen. Sometimes people we love get hurt, or pass on. I had the horrific experience of watching cancer destroy a loved one recently. She had to experience the parade of “we have done all we can,” from doctors and nurses. I received the call while at work that this had happened. It left me bitter and angry and even more than anything, sad. I had to put something to words. I apologize, normally I am a little more upbeat. But I truly hope the message that I learned through writing this will ultimately brighten your lives.
Well here goes:
The Flickering Flame
It flickers faintly now. Fuel spent, growing dim. The small flame, once powerful, a bringer of light and warmth to the world around it, now struggles to stay lit.
“It is the way with flames,” says a passerby.
Those closest to it are huddled about it, what little heat remains, it tries to share, to help one more sojourner find their way.
“Please little flame, please don’t burn out.” Says one of them still nearby. “I have some kindling, take it.”
The little flame regards this kind gesture a moment, “but what would that leave you?” it seems to say as it sputters and shrinks a little more, merely a speck of orange against the growing darkness.
“Please don’t leave us,” begs another.
The little flame hesitates a moment, then in a last gasp tries to will its way back. A flicker of hope, a tiny crackle, then it fades as the little fire retreats into a small glowing coal. Then it fades into darkness.
Darkness. Numbness. All anyone can do is stare at the spot, once illumined by the little flame. There is crying, sniffling, weeping, despair. “What will we do without our little flame?” one asks, grief-stricken. And for the briefest of moments, it feels as if all hope is lost, like the end has come. Many remain, mourning the loss of one so precious, one so noble, so brave. “It hurts” says one of the closest. “It truly does…” says another.
The morning has come and yet the mourning continues. A memory of a happier time crosses the mind of one of those in the circle.
“Your flame just sparked and grew slightly.” It says softly, its voice full of wonder.
Others around the circle begin experiencing the same. A slight growing of light, of strength, faint but just noticeable to those paying attention. Truly each one appears slightly brighter than before. The pain begins to lessen as memories of the little flame resurface.
“Remember when the little flame…?” A grand flame asks noticing that even its glow brightens ever so slightly.
“Yes, that little flame was so caring.” Says a middling flame, still burning strong but not as bright as some of the others. It crackles and grows just a little. Everyone influenced by the good of the little flame is stoked hotter by its memories. They begin to realize that the little flame is gone, but not truly, not forever. It lives happily now with the keeper of flames and through memories of others, each touched by the innocence and kindness of a life well lived.
Passerbys stop, “what has happened here?” Some are concerned, they knew the flame had been dying but the others, their flames burn brighter. “What kind of phenomena is this?”
One of the flames separates from the group and approaches a now gathered semi-circle of passerbys sharing warmth and light with them. “A life, however short or long, when lived unselfishly and full of love, will continue to strengthen others even after it is gone…” It says, then pauses a moment. Its flame flickers curiously at a slightly odd angle in thought, as if it has just discovered something, “…if we let it. We can share our light and warmth with others, and our piece of the little flame will live on through each of us.”
Thank you little flickering flame, until we meet again.