By Bob Weaver
Today was Levi Fowler's birthday. He was returned to the sod at Joker, the Bryner Cemetery, near his boyhood home.
He would have been 33-years-old today.
In the passing parade of people, young and old, who have died in my lifetime, Levi is another, but as I've grown older and spent more time reflecting on life, its joys and sorrows, it was most painful to see him go.
Most of us have great expectations for those born to the world, to complete some kind of journey, a journey that involves aging, a time to experience those things offered up, good and bad, and the wonderful magnificence of the world about us.
Levi had some time to do that as a country boy.
It has been days of saddening for our family over his death. Levi was one of two young men my son befriended when we returned to our ancestral home in the winter of 1995-96.
Jon knew no one in the community, but I remember him coming home from the old Calhoun County High School saying "I have met this really nice guy, really quiet, really nice."
Since that day, Levi has been part of our life.
The other kid he befriended was Josh McDonald, also a close friend to Levi, a constant presence in our abode until he went away to school in Pittsburgh, a country boy not familiar with urban ways. He was murdered there by an unknown person at age 19. He too has been laid to rest in the Calhoun sod a short distance from the Village of Hur.
Jon has other friends who came to Levi's funeral today, some that returned home from other states.
They came to mourn and remember his short life.
See complete obituary Levi James Fowler
At the funeral today, I carried a copy of William Cullen Bryant's poem written about two hundred years ago - "Thanatopsis," a poem about living and dying. In addition to the minister's words and the music, it comforted me.
The poem reflects on the beauty of the world in which we live, but that we all lie down in its bosom.
"The youth in life's fresh spring, and he who goes
in the full strength of years, matron and maid,
the speechless babe, and the gray-headed man -
shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
by those, who in their turn, shall follow them."
"Thou shalt lie down
with patriarchs of the infant world - with kings,
the powerful of the earth - the wise, the good,
fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
all in one mighty sepulchre ... The golden sun,
the planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
are shining on the sad abodes of death ..."
"The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
plod on, and each one as before will chase
his favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
their mirth and their employments, and shall come
and make their bed with thee."
"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
to that mysterious realm, where each shall take
his chamber in the silent halls of death,
thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
scourged to his dungeon ..."
"But, sustained and soothed
by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."
See also 'HOWEVER MEASURED OR FAR AWAY' - Josh McDonald Remembered