{Life and Death in 25 Lines}


His homework was to write a poem.
Tell us a childhood memory. He wrote,
The Week my Grandpa Died in 25 lines.
Over two sautéing onions, tears.  I’m choking on them and the meat and spices,
Mom, is this too hard?
Mom, do you need a hug?
Mom, I need to give you a hug he says coming around the stove. He is kind
like his grandpa, I want to say. A grandpa he’ll never know and I cannot be
the Memory Keeper,
but if not me, whom?

Taco casserole is easy.  I can do this dinner while the world’s crashing,
Spirits and hearts cracked open, still but beating
on and on.
This wasn’t life as I expected, messy and smashed
down like our fifty year old house, neglected
and falling down.  We’re patching souls, daily.
Kissing away tears.

A warm bath washes gone the youngest’s stinky boy smells and the heaviness of weeks and months of strain,
we’re rinsing off sorrow again.
How are you faring, I ask.  His shrug says more than words.  “It’s okay.”
He finishes quietly.
“Sometimes I want to yell, …”

Oh, how I want to yell and holler at God, What are you thinking?  If you’re thinking of us at all.
I’m waiting,
in this mixed-up, broken space
lost in time.
Wishing, sick dizzy from the spinning!
And knowing,
it won’t end. Knowing I must let go my fear, the idea that God
isn’t listening;
fearful that life is

emptiness, pain and endless sorrow.

Henri Nouwen sayswe long to be occupied.
We fear our endless emptiness. YES.

The snow outside reflects a cold calm I don’t feel.
Inside I am holding, still.
My emptiness an offering
to the Holy Spaces of In Between
(belief and disbelief)
I do not understand.

He sits down hard by the sink, in the way kids they often do.  Asking
“Mom, do you believe in heaven?”
What he’s asking I cannot know – is there a space there outside of time and cosmos.
A space where we will see Grandpa again?

This, the place
of unknowing, is uncomfortable for me, for him.
It sits down hard between us,
the air thick and heavy with our mutual wondering.

We stop, just for a moment and look into each other’s eyes.
Comforted by the solidity of his teenage boy body, I take from him.
Another hug and wait.

all a part of the human condition. Not even this
can I keep from him but I long to teach him too.
About trust, surrender and continued openness

to the Unknown.


One thought on “{Life and Death in 25 Lines}

  1. Oh, my heart. His heart. Yours. I am breathing it all in, the space, the not-knowing, the love that covers every hurt even when we think it can’t stretch far enough. Thank you for being brave in this.


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