Katherine Slaikeu Nolan

Katie and Chris at Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Katie and Chris at Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Today we inter Katherine’s (“Katie’s”) ashes – three years to the day after she left her cancer behind at the age of 33.

It takes awhile sometimes. The stages of grief don’t come in standard sequence like the innings of a baseball game.

In “The Final Time” in Max Coots’ collection of poetic prose, Seasons of the Self (Abington Press, 1971), he wrote:

It takes a little while to know how much of life is death and not to dread it so.
To sense the equilibrium of the earth,
To be at home in time, and take the limits of both life and love.

A person’s death is a private thing, like grief, like prayer, like birth.
I know nothing of that final time, except what I know of life,
But I know I live and in my life I have so many opportunities to die,
For death is many things and times,
Before the days are gone,
But I have, yet, a while, and things to be, and much to do.

Max Coots is a poet and Minister Emeritus of the Canton Unitarian-Universalist Church in Canton, NY. His words still echo today as the family gathers to lay Katie’s ashes to rest. Special prayers today for Katherine’s husband Chris, her mother Kay, her father Steve, and her siblings Kristin and Andrew.

It’s the little deaths before the final time I fear.
The blasé shrug that quietly replaces excited curiosity,
The cynic-sneer that takes the place of innocence,
The soft sweet odor of success that overcomes the sense of sympathy,
The self-betrayals that rob us of our will to trust,
The ridicule of vision, the barren blindness to what was once our sense of beauty –
These are deaths that come on so quietly we do not know when it was we died.

Precious Lord, deliver us from these, and grant us peace within the limits of life and love.