The Inward Flame That Is Never Turned Off

Elita Sohmer Clayman

A dear friend of mine passed away suddenly a few weeks ago. He and his sweet wife took the day off from their business and spent a fine day together sitting on their deck and watching the flowers and the birds on a nice fall day.. That evening they went to their business which happened to be a dance hall-studio. After a few hours there, they were leaving when one of the teachers made a comment about a prominent older dance teacher who had just passed away. He said to them "we have to appreciate every day and be happy to be alive." They did live their lives that way.

They came home and he dropped with a severe heart attack and died a few minutes later.

Everyone was shocked and dismayed and it makes one wonder at this thing called life.

Some days we are bored, some days we are exhilarated, sometimes we are tired and some days we yearn for something exciting to happen. We never know what is in store for us or our loved ones. We often say we will start smelling the flowers and we will stop dwelling on bad things with bad thoughts. We do not always adhere to those thoughts.

It is easier to say than to practice. After an experience like mentioned above, then we do really start to be happier and more content with what we have or been dealt. That surely lasts maybe a short time like a week or two and then we go back and act and live the way we always did before this happened. We get bored, we work too hard, we envy others who have more than us or we just plain are dissatisfied with things. We should be counting our blessings.

We forget that this awful thing happened to a good person and his family is still grieving and will be for a long and even longer time. They will go back to their work, to their daily routine and miss him so much. They will remember the happy times and the good remarks and special moments that all had together. A word, a phrase, a thought and even a special food will remind them of the deceased. They will laugh at something they remember he joked about and they may have not laughed then when it was said. They will recall a piece of clothing he wore that they loved or did not care for and may have made a comment on. They will remember the trips they took together and enjoyed each other’s company. They will think about when they had family and holiday celebrations and everyone ate to their heart’s content and everyone was tired from all the holiday preparations.

They will remember tender moments and sweet gifts given to each other for anniversaries or holidays. They will reminisce about funny experiences and going to restaurants to eat together a simple meal or an elaborate meal. It did not matter because they were together. My own mom used to say after my dad died, that one of the hardest things was to eat alone especially at home. She would sit at the kitchen table and could still hear his words complimenting her on the dinner even if it was a light dinner. He got pleasure out of everything she cooked and applauded her with verbal thanks. From an elaborate holiday meal to a modest cup of soup or a scrambled egg, he thought it delicious. He had been poor growing up and mealtimes were happy and together moments, when the whole family sat and ate together. He equated us all eating together every night to a festive occasion. That is why she missed him so much at dinner time. Every meal was a feast of food, of talking and mostly of being together.

I bought at Barnes and Noble bookstore, an inexpensive book of Shakespeare writings. It is called No Fear Shakespeare and explains in easy language interpretations of Shakespeare. In Sonnet 97, it explains Sonnet 97

"My separation from you has felt just like winter, since you’re what makes the year pleasurable." We should all remember that when our loved ones are with us; we should tell them daily that we love them and not think that oh I will say that next time. Sometimes, we are not lucky enough to see them next time. Take the moment in hand and say it now, because now is here and we never know when the here is gone.

My friend mentioned above who passed away suddenly always shared his love with his love. They had a second marriage, each to one another and even though their time was short, about eight or nine years, they filled each day with love and rememberances.They showed each other that now is here and here is now and they did not wait for the separation to happen suddenly to express those thoughts. Those thoughts were ever present and ever spoken and that is what love and devotion is all about.

This is the inheritance of the remaining person, having the spirit and the days past engraved on one’s heart forever. That keeps us alive in someone else’s heart and that is our legacy-being remembered with devotion, love and our self. Someone once wrote

"Spirit is an inward flame; a lamp the world blows upon, but never puts out."

My late friend and his wife will never have their lamp blown out or turned off. Their lamp is lit forever in their hearts and in their souls. My mom and dad were that way. They were married thirty-seven years before he passed away. She missed him a lot. He was the kind of guy who on his own birthday would give her a small present. I asked him once why he did that because he was the one who should receive a present. He said "because she is my wife, my love, I want to give her a present on my birthday because she is my present." When I became pregnant with my first child, he wrote me a rhyming poem on how happy he would be to meet my child, his third grandchild. He could not wait to have another one. When I would bring her to their apartment, he would take a small box from the grocery store, tie a rope and insert it in the hole the carton had and put her in there on a soft towel and pull her from room to room.

He could not afford a little wagon or any of the expensive toys children have now days. This was a homemade contraption and she would laugh and giggle with joy. He knew time was precious and he shared himself in this innocent toy with my first born child.

When he turned seventy, I threw him a small family dinner in my apartment. He came in expecting to visit and we were all there and yelled surprise. My brother caught his expression on a movie film, no camcorders, cell phones etc. in those days and the tears came to his eyes. No one had ever thrown him a surprise party. He probably never even had a birthday party as a kid because they were living in hard financial times in those days. So my simple and sweet dinner made him feel like a king. He always wanted what they called in those days a smoking jacket, not that you smoked wearing it, just like a three quarter length shiny jacket similar to a fancy bathrobe for a male. I bought him one. He put it on over his suit, he always wore a tie and jacket when he went out and his face was full of sunshine and happiness.

Spirit is indeed an inward flame and this flame is never extinguished; it lives on in all of us who inherit the light and we keep the memories and the beautiful light glowing. We, ourselves shine even more because we remember those days and those precious moments forever.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
January 2012

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Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL