Category Archives: loss

Sterling Song

I kept looking to those purple roses today

wanting perfection

all the words

that would make it plain

without bogging anyone else down

You were here

I am me because you were you

and we were in an intersection of time

both solid and without discernable boundaries

a single note of a sterling song

that remains in tune as each chord is struck

memories building the melody

until the refrain doesn’t need the lyrics

because the moments are the perfection

that create a universal ballad

when one stops to listen to a heart

that grieves a heart that stopped


justin roses

Happy Birthday Justin

Today is my middle son’s birthday. He would have been 27 years old. Living with loss is a funny state of being – we fight it at every turn, always dimly aware that it is inescapable. We create habits to keep us from losing our keys, our place in a book, lists so that we don’t forget one of life’s latest ingredients, we play puzzles to keep from losing our memories and thus, our minds. All this effort to avoid the ultimate equalizer of death. Justin died of SIDS the week before he would have been 6 months old.

Like anyone, I did not want a tremendous loss to be part of my reality. Not me, I don’t belong in this club. A good mom, a great mom…she’s not the mother of a dead child. It’s odd how I let the words of other people sometimes reinforce this falsity. I have to remind myself, they just don’t get it. All of us, regardless of your beliefs, we are human and must investigate our surroundings, our relationships, our relationship to everything through our unique perceptions and abilities. We are not meant to be perfect. If we are lucky we maintain the ability to shift and learn through the lifetime process. If we are luckier still, we have love in our life that is not lost but transformed and weaved into our story. Is it always joyful? No. An easy road? No. Is it worth the risk? Yes.

In past years I’ve often marked anniversary dates with poems to record my feelings regarding the death of Justin. I’ve never wanted to proclaim myself any more knowledgeable than another person on how separation by death feels. I felt that poetry was vague enough to easily be molded to others’ perceptions so that they could decide if there was benefit in my words. I still believe that to be true. Today is different. Today I want to risk being more direct about my feelings regarding Justin. I want you to know about him and the importance he plays in my life and who I am…and who I am becoming. Yes, he is sometimes seen as that tear you want to hide from – sometimes that silly smile as I sing along with an old song – he is part of me…every day. I want you to know so that you can understand why I am celebrating today. Like my other sons and all the important people in my life, Justin is worth celebration.

Please do me a favor as I honor his memory and place in my life and take time today to celebrate those that matter to you. Celebrate them if they are standing next to you, across the country, across the world, in a different belief system, a confusing time in their life, a confusing time in your life, in a difference of opinion, or simply in your memory. Allow me today to be bold enough to proclaim the importance of loving, deeply, with your entire self, even at the risk of losing it all.

Treading Upward

I may not know the loss of a continent

or a lover

but I have lived the ripples of a pond

with stone cold drops to the bottom

heart and lungs weighted with life’s heavy rope

to the depths it sent me searching

for a perfect sunrise without a sky

winter’s bloom with no air

the ache of your absent body

answering only to arms of self abuse

houdini existence with me escaping life

wondering why i could not heal

lacking the balm of action

brought from tackling fear anew




Jupiter Crossing

Time splits, arrow through apple

moment held as a camera flash

Two boys, smiling by a tree

no thoughts of bearded faces

Orbits created, joy magnified

creatures that leap and bound

Time cracks, hammer to stone

picture on yellowing paper

Two teens, always headed out

looking for keys to autonomy

Patience sits, tail wagging

waiting for moons to set

Time rips, heart is bared

vision crisply riding the air

Two men, glancing homeward

remembering lessons learned

Planet rests, stops rotation

drifting off to final repose

life pulse

a heart sits

behind the eyes

viewing private tapes

living moments 

abiding in between

interpretations found

rendering verdicts

composing diversions

making silent wishes

until it beats no longer

light goes dim

curtains close

others look for meaning

I Woke Crying

your loss

it brings me to my knees

begging that you be cradled

in giant, loving arms

to hold you tight

because the fall is long

but all the time is needed

to weave a net

from loving memories

the strongest threads


Shattered Hearts

i hear the cries from the living tomb

the darkened pit that deems they enter

inhabitants have fallen into a million pieces

countless crimes have shattered them

beyond repair, becoming strangers

to others that have been spared

becoming strangers to even themselves

where has the dreamer gone, peaceful soul

ripped limb from limb til heart crystal falls

there is no glue to fix what shattered

madness has become the marker

for who they might have been before and

who they have been forced to become

when life was whole, anger was folly

but where can anguish be relinquished

when grief will not release a crushing grip

unknowing souls standing at the edge

of living tombs, mystified and scared

attempting to wash all away with tears

wishing they could gather pieces

making them whole once more



According to the FBI reports I was able to locate for last year –  14,180 homicides were recorded in the United States in 2008. 14,180 people were killed at the hands of another, not by war, disease, or accident. The tragedy did not end with their deaths. It is my belief that the majority, if not all, left many loved ones behind. These loved ones have had their lives altered for the remainder of their own lives. They will go on to experience accomplishments and defeats but they will do so as a changed person. Their course has been altered and they took no part in the decision. I can tell you that I have met some of these survivors. I can tell you that my soul aches for the grief they so bravely endure. What an incredible testament to the memory of their loved ones…to continue on through such pain. I don’t know what to say to them, I wish I knew how to help. I just keep offering the mundane “anything, anything at all” in hopes that they will feel at moments that they are not walking alone. One thing that can be done is to offer them contact information to groups that might be able to help. Two of the groups I found this week are Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, Inc.  and The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. – both of the groups are available to anyone that has lost someone they care about to a homicide. Other possible options I found include contacting a local Victim Advocate (if available) or Hospice organization (for grief counseling) for the survivor’s county. Often the non-emergency phone number to the local law enforcement office is the place to contact for these numbers. I hope that you pass this information along to anyone you know that is trying to live this challenge alone.

Inventory of Inheritance (v2)

hidden in the closet with mislaid hopes, dreams

a four year old struggles to satiate her curiosity

how scary is an unknown with nothing to gauge

like peeking at presents, tearing a bit off the corner

hushed stories, unknown alternative twists, plots

claims that we did not want you, turned you away

but there were packages

with pretty ribbons


still wrapped beneath the tree

expectations that a peeked at corner could solve

a riddle, a mystery, tell her what was in the box

an empty box, so many hearts with spare rooms

childhood continued without you, without you here

there were only whispers of you written on dusty gifts

the door was slammed and locked from both sides

eventually, elder breath grew weary

slow, some even stopped

an inventory of inheritance began

we opened shades and doors

aired out broken liaisons  

began to gather pieces

sifting through skeletons

searching for shards

of our forefathers’ chalice

a cup once intended

for quenching communion

now leaving throats dry

while hugging a stranger