In this season of death, death has hit close to home, although this one was not Covid-caused. William Boyd, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland student who lived with us for six years, helping us bring up our children and journeying with us to Yugoslavia/Slovenia for my two Fulbrights, unexpectedly passed away from kidney failure and diabetes. He was 55.
For Julia and me, William was our fourth son. For Justin, Darien and Toby, he was their older brother. For Yugoslavia/Slovenia, William was an electrifying gospel singer who sang in Zagreb’s and Sarajevo’s major concert halls in 1988 and in various Slovenian public venues in 1995. For New Elizabeth Baptist Church, William was the charismatic pastor who touched lives in his impoverished Baltimore community, reaching out to those in pain and helping them find a way forward.
I feel so, so tired, as I did when I lost Justin 20 years ago. That’s probably why this song from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline comes to mind. I send it out to William as a kind of lullaby:
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownèd be thy grave!
Or as Horatio says so movingly to his closest friend,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.