I Don't Do Death, I Only Do Living

Rev Gladys Millard died in February of this year. She and Malcolm were well known to many at St Peterís as our CMS Mission Partners in the Gambia from 1989 to 1994. Gladys began her adult life as a teacher and then trained in tailoring at Norman Hartnellís. These twin interests continued all her working life. She taught RE and fashion in a number of schools and worked for five years in the Sunday School department of Scripture Union, training others and producing resource materials. After theological training and marriage to Malcolm she joined him as a Reader in Farrafenni, Gambia, sponsored by CMS. On returning to England she taught in schools in South East Essex until ordained in 1998. She died of cancer from which she had suffered periodically for over 25 years. This poem is one of several meditations written shortly before her death.

I donít do death
I only do living.
I like life
  and vitality
    and energy,
I like births and thanksgivings and baptisms
I like children and Mums and Toddlers
I like family services full of young life
I like youth movements full of activity
I like marriages and weddings and new beginnings
I like schools and children and school assemblies
I like friendships full of love and fun
I like activity, busyness and chat
I just like life.
I donít do death.
I donít like good-byes
I donít like funerals
(I donít do funerals.)
I can comfort people after a manner
but I donít do death.
Itís not part of my agenda.
But at this time Death has come and looked me in the face
And faced me with my own mortality.
And even though I told him
ďI donít do deathĒ
And I always bounce back,
He stayed around till I acknowledged him
And I acknowledged to myself that
I am human and a mortal.

But there is so much I havenít done.
There is so much I want to do
There are so many places I havenít seen
There is so much I havenít learnt
There is so much for God I want to do
And I was just starting on my next career
And suddenly I think of those Iíll leave behind
The little ones Iíll never see grow up
The plans and visions I will not fulfil.
Lord, let me live to get done all I must
And be your mouthpiece in our needy world
To be encourager to higher faith
A going forward not a looking back

But I will live Ďcause I know where Iím going
Where Life and immortality are there to stay
And I will dance my way all over heaven
With that vitality from Him who is My Way.

Gladys Millard

from "Meditations on the Treasures of Darkness"

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 2nd June 2001