Tag Archives: mother

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.

Family Values

lying in wait was more tolerable than lying in worry

watching for her to peer around the corner

sprinkling sparkling remnants to be crafted into

something, anything

pretending that words could matter on a screen to

someone, anyone

but the visits became more sparse

returning me to words that drift on air from

one ear, another ear

leaving me wondering if ownership exists

when attitudes are hurled like a storm

nobody recording the cold temperature of rejections

or the burn of a verbal punch landed on another

denial the likely outcome of useless confrontation

and the mantra, buzzing in my head

“what other people think of me is none of my business”

so less so should their shenanigans towards one another be mine

or is that true

do you ever stop mothering, do they cease to be your child

I am old enough to know that ridicule is a beast

in the pocket of the unleasher

how do I convey that to a young man

that is trying to trust, trying to love

in a world where even those closest to you


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


Heavy Hearted Son

i agree with him
maybe this is best
fast, like a band-aid
but i see sad eyes
oh to cradle, rock
kiss soft red hair
promise happiness
wrap him up tight
but it is her arms
he is missing
not mine

Forgot the Apron (v2)

sitting quietly at kitchen counter
i realize my mixer is stuck in reverse
ideals and antiquated beliefs
fly out the sides of the bowl
ingredients were added





individually, as directed

it turned out bland

now I scan the shelf for seasonings
borrow a cup of something bold
sprinkle mirth from the back canister
experiment with a new mixture
always changing and adjusting
the personal blend

hoping to beat the secret recipe

Red Tag

forget frogs and snails and puppy-dog’s tails

little boys should come with a red tag warning

will jump more than a frog

respond slower than a snail

be more hyper than any tail

will steal your heart and mind with his eyes

respond to kisses and hugs when nobody is watching

be an incredible friend that you will worry about forever

will have stitches from his various adventures

respond to kleenex by wiping his nose on his sleeve

be a giant you want to cradle when another bone breaks

will grow into a man that is amazing to watch

respond to his world with the love you poured out

be a joy you will one day release to other waiting arms

I guess a red tag wouldn’t change anything


he read it once, read it againchords

asked me to stay right here

he ran down and back with

guitar and a strap and said

mom, just lend me your ear

the words he sang out

in his young man voice that I love

I sat quiet and somewhat amazed

I have heard him before

singing out through his door

but this is a moment I’ll save

he’s so tall I look up 

just to see his big grin

smiling as bright as the sun

I think of him still as my little boy

even though his growing is all done

I considered the difference

in the words that he sang

though the order was all just the same

the laughter, the passion, his eagerness too

this all isn’t something you train

I smiled at him, thanked him, and agreed to a future show

he said we’ll try some new chords tomorrow mom

right now I’ve just got to go

Forgot the Apron

Sitting quietly at my kitchen counter

I realize my mixer is stuck in reverse

ideals and antiquated beliefs

fly out the sides of the bowl

ingredients were added one at a time

individually, as directed


It turned out bland


Now I scan the shelf for seasonings

borrow a cup of something bold

sprinkle mirth from the canister in back

experiment with a new mixture

ever changing and adjusting

the personal blend


Hoping to beat the secret recipe

Shedding Skins

I am underneath it all

it is becoming an exercise to breathe

without an external focus

I think I am shedding

it takes so much effort

the inhale might be mine

but it is pulling back in the remnants

of the effort for others

maybe you are supposed to inhale

some of your old skin

so that it doesn’t completely

die away

but stays with you

no longer entirely covering you

but internalized

helping to nourish the core

so it will be part of the whole

when you are done

shedding skins