Amid the anger and sadness that accompanies the death of a friend, the bereaved often find solace in the immortality of memory. What makes Nick Barnett's death especially difficult is the fact that he was with us so briefly, and while we are comforted by the memories he left us, we are haunted by those he did not get the chance to make.
Many of us did not have the opportunity to know Nick. But this much we know is true: he loved Bowdoin. "This was the kingdom he was looking for," Nick's mother said of her son, who was buried in his Bowdoin Sailing Team jacket.
It is difficult to discern any logic in the loss of someone so young and full of potential. But while it may be impossible to understand Nick Barnett's death, perhaps the following poem, submitted to Nick's high school yearbook by his parents, can help us understand his life. Written by Rudyard Kipling, it is poignantly titled "If."
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream?and not make dreams your master;
If you can think?and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings?nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run?
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And?which is more?you'll be a Man my son!