And I Shall Have Some Peace There

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The night he died, I was reciting WB Yeats’ poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” to him. The last words I spoke to him were, “It’s time for you to go now. Go to Innisfree and have some peace there, and wait for me.” He took one final breath and  then silently, he was gone.

Twenty-five months later, I went to Innisfree in Lough Gill, on the Rose of Innisfree. There were six adults and two young children on board, and the late afternoon sky was gray and overcast.

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The captain took the boat as close as possible to Innisfree and stopped the engine. As the boat gently swayed, I read the following quote from John F. Kennedy, at the request of his oldest son.

I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all come from the sea. We are tied to the ocean, to the water. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.

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I lit three small lanterns and the captain, Alan, set them onto the water for me. I poured some holy water I’d just taken from the Tobernalt Holy Well, and then, as I slowly scattered his ashes, I read this old Celtic prayer from John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara.

I am going home with thee, to thy home, to thy home,
I am going home with thee, to thy home of winter.
I am going home with thee, to thy home, to thy home,
I am going home with thee, to thy home of autumn, of spring, and of summer.
I am going home with thee, [love of my heart] to thy eternal bed, to thy perpetual sleep.

As I wept, an elderly woman, who had been standing on the stern with me, took me in her arms. Her name was Mary, and she told me she lost her husband 22 years ago and knew my pain. This benevolent stranger held me as I cried and said goodbye to my husband. There were no other words to be spoken, but I am forever grateful to Mary, who understood, and stood, with me.

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He is home, and I am home, with him. May he rest in peace, at Innisfree, until we meet again.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
from 
The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

 

2 thoughts on “And I Shall Have Some Peace There

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