Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Devil's Advocate Has Sympathy for Cops Who Lose Their Cool

DEAR ABBY: Some time ago, you reprinted a brief essay about death. I don't remember the exact wording, but the gist of the piece was likening the individual to a ship -- seen by one group of people as leaving, and at the same time seen by another group as arriving.

This piece impressed me so much that I want it to be read at my funeral.

I wasn't able to keep the newspaper. If you recognize this essay, will you please print it again? -- ELAINE HARPER, NASHVILLE, TENN.

DEAR ELAINE: The piece was titled "A Parable of Immortality," by Henry Van Dyke. Not only have I published it before, it's also in my "Keepers" booklet. Here it is:

"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!'

"Gone where? Gone from my sight -- that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the places of destination.

"Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There she goes!' there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'Here she comes!'"