Farewell to a friend

This is not a privacy related blog today.

The world is short one more lovely young mother who was also a fellow Sun employee. I wish I had slowed my pace to know her better. I wish that various data traces that remain could describe her life & the impact of her untimely & sudden death.

To the blog o sphere, I send my warm regards. Let us all take time to care about the fellow humans pinging back & forth on the network.

One of my favorite & one of the saddest poems in modern literature. Rest in peace my friend:

A. E. Housman. 1859–

To An Athlete Dying Young

THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come, 5
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay, 10
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers 15
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man. 20

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head 25
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Our data may be available for slicing & dicing forever, but our humanity makes all that data actually mean something at the end of the day.


I'm sorry to hear about your friend, especially if she leaves young children behind. May she rest in peace.

Posted by Cynthia Badiey on March 04, 2008 at 06:26 AM PST #

Oddly, I saw your post while sitting in a class and discussing tracking employee state through a company. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't've posted.

Anyway, this is the poem that always comes to mind for me on this sort of sad occasion:

Dirge without Music

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Posted by John A Arkansawyer on March 04, 2008 at 08:47 AM PST #

I am not resigned either-- not one bit. Thank you for the lovely poem.

The tracking of employee data thru an org is something I am always thinking about too. I am glad to hear that there's a class sitting out there somewhere caring about that too.

Posted by Me on March 04, 2008 at 09:12 AM PST #

I love the poems in this post and in the comments section. Thank you for this important reminder to stop and appreciate the people in our lives.

Posted by melanie gao on March 04, 2008 at 09:53 AM PST #

Thus far the year seems to be wresting from us those that make our very lives worth living. We still do our jobs and balance our days, but I pull that much closer those around me right now.

Posted by Tim on March 04, 2008 at 07:43 PM PST #

I dropped in to offer sympathy, not to promote the program I'm in. I'm an old guy with a young daughter, and my own mortality troubles me in a way it never did before, so stumbling on this moved me.

That said, and feeling a bit odd about saying the next thing, it's a unique and interesting masters program. Drop me a note and I'll send you a link--but I'd really rather not post it here. That feels wrong.

Posted by John A Arkansawyer on March 04, 2008 at 11:04 PM PST #

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