Monday, May 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I don't consider myself much of a poet. But, in my grieving last week at the loss of Grandpa, just 4 months after the loss of Grandma, I found myself penning a poem. This is part of my healing. Part of my learning to say, "Goodbye."

This is my small tribute to Grandpa and Grandma.

Saying Goodbye

As I pass your still form,
I look into your face
and whisper a goodbye.

The word—so meager—sticks
in the hollowness of my stomach
and in the lump in my throat.

Tears run rivers of paltry
down my cheeks,
my neck.

No word can encompass
the thirty years of love-filled
how are yous?

Later, I stroll through what remains
trailing my fingers over hills of
dishes, wallets, tools, shoes.
Ninety years of possessions collected,
chaotic and out-of-place.
So unlike how you lived, unlike even
how you died.

Memories, thick as smoke, rise
from the touch of a kitchen cabinet door,
from the scroll of penmanship across
recipe cards and a well-thumbed copy of Hoyle’s,
from a glance at the ever-vigilant Grandfather clock,
from a seat at the table around which so many meals
began with Father, we pause just now…

You are here,
sort of.

I am told to find a token,
a memory.

I don’t want a thing.
I want you.
If I take of what is left,
I acknowledge you are not.

Yet, I take to help say goodbye.

I lift a sewing machine—a mere toy—
crafted by your own hands
and caress the smooth two-toned wood
seamlessly joined as one.
In this small piece I see
the couple you were and the family you built.
With each twist of the knob,
I watch the threaded needle bob
up, down,
up, down,
sewing a rhythmic memory of your life—
dedication, precision, family, laughter, faith, hope, love.

And as I tuck the sewing machine beneath my arm,
I remember our eternity and how
saying goodbye to you today
is an invitation to
say hello again
some other day
in glory.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Steph.

Lana Joy said...

Thanks for sharing this, Steph. I felt the same way at their house...

EmilyAnne said...

You absolutely captured the experience and the mental steps I dealt with as well, as I walked through the jumbled garage and the house which looked like someone still lived there (although not my neat-nick grandparents); as I stood frozen in the doorway staring at the refrigerator magnet that read: Doris' Kitchen. Disbelief, an overwhelming desire to touch nothing so the deaths could remain unvalidated, a sense of loss that eventually had to be sated by cradling some THING that gave substance to ethereal memories. Thank you.

nancy said...


you gave words to those emotions that sometimes can only be expressed by tear-filled eyes and heavy sighs.

thank you, from those who have walked this road.

you grandparents would be (and I'm convinced are) so touched by your tribute.

liz nelson said...

beautifully written, Steph! you captured so well all of the emotions that this past week held. i still can't find the words to express how i feel-- how sad i am and yet how happy i am for them to be together again in eternity. love this poem. i'm thinking maybe you should try your hand at poetry more often.

stephanie said...

Thank you all for reading this. I'm glad the poem could speak to you as well.

Heather L. said...

Your poem is beautiful, Stephanie. I'm so sorry this year has brought so much grief to your family.

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