Smiling at Death

Your whole life was wrapped around you
on that day,
propped up on a pillowy white cloud,
a few extra ones, cool, crisp
arranged in a special way,
a privilege for the dying.

How could your tiny fragile frame
have carried so much,
braved storms at sea,
ministered prayers from pulpit.
The swimming lessons you gave me;
you had the patience of Job.
And the turnip faces you carved
for Halloween, they were perfect;
(you would have cringed at pumpkins.)
But then you could do everything in my eyes;
you knew everything too.
I remember you trying to
show me how to use a slide rule;
I still haven’t a clue.

And there,
on a warm day, early May
in a special bed for the dying,
lay all of that,
your whole life in a cradle of time,
and it weighed next to nothing –

except for your smile.
Your smile was stronger than ever,
big enough to carry us all
as it led you, without doubt,
to a place you had always believed in
and where you were sure
we would meet again.

I remember you turned your head toward me.
Is my grandma here yet, you asked
in whispered voice.
Now it was my turn to smile.
I looked into your bright but fading eyes.
Yes dad, I said, I think she is.
And you slipped away,
smiling at death

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65 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leamuse
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 13:41:04

    Christine, I am speechless! πŸ™‚ Xxx

    You have me running through the alphabet of emotions!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 13:54:22

      Thank you very much Lea!

      He died 9 years ago, and I have wanted to write about his and my experience, but havent been able to put into words or didnt feel I could. Then earlier this week a friend lost her dad far too young; my own dad’s death came to mind and the poem just happened.

      Love

      Christine

      Xxx

      Reply

  2. Ina
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 13:44:32

    Hi Christine,

    such a beautiful poem about that last day of your father’s life.

    It must have been a good way to go for him as he was surrounded by love.

    His smile maybe was his gift in return.

    L&H xxx

    Reply

  3. cynthia jobin
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 13:45:41

    This is probably one of the most beautiful poems I’ve read on this subject. It made me weep, and remember my own dad on his deathbed—which also gave me a clue that it was a “looking forward” rather than a fearsome thing. Thank you so much, Christine, for this exquisite piece!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:00:45

      Thank you so very much Cynthia for your lovely omment (“lovely”sometimes seems such a lame word!).; it warmed my heart.

      As I said to Ina, he winked at us too! Dad always made everyrhing ok, and he didnt stop until the last day, letting us know even this (death) was going to be ok.

      Im so pleased my poem spoke to you; I always hold your comments in high regard. 😊

      Reply

  4. pepperandru
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:06:41

    This is beautiful.

    Reply

  5. Janette moran
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:08:38

    Beautiful .. .i’m in floods of tears he was so special I miss him so much. He would have been so proud of you writing such a beautiful poem about him and of all your poems. He’s always with us all just wish he was still here xxxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:19:03

      Thanks very much Janette.

      I knew this would have quite a far reaching effect on you. It just came to mind after I heard about Fiona losing her dad suddenly earlier this week.

      Dad/grandad was certainly very special and I miss him tons and always will. He would have been so proud of all three of you, where you all are, what you are all doing, and all his grandchildren he never met.

      I can honestly say I think about him and mum every day, even if its just mums voice saying “ee our Chris”!! 😊

      Xxx

      Reply

      • Janette moran
        Nov 22, 2013 @ 17:22:01

        I think about them every day too and still thinking about them brings tears to my eyes, they’re still here in spirit and sometimes you sound just like nana anyway so she’s definitely still here and we all use grandad’s sayings all the time too . . And grandmas they were all wonderful people and this poem encapsulates grandad perfectly xxxx

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 17:26:48

      ❀ Xx

      Reply

      • Janette moran
        Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:27:54

        I also remember him telling me a day or so before he died that he’d be looking down on us all with his angel wings and that I had to take care of Ruth xx just remembered as I re read this poem and tears streaming again πŸ™‚ xx

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 20:32:11

      Oh gosh Janette! Yes, I remember you telling me this now!! Oh now youve got me going! Im sure he is with us! Xx

      Reply

      • Janette moran
        Nov 22, 2013 @ 21:11:19

        I often think of him saying that and it feels lovely to think of him looking down and wondering what advice he’d give us all etc, I’m sure he’s there with nana at his side saying ‘eeh Dad’ xx him saying that was just another example of him looking after us giving us that image. I’ll stop writing things now as I’m crying again and Solomon getting wet with my tears πŸ™‚ xx

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 21:17:46

      I know what you mean. Fancy him saying that to you, still looking after us all and reasuring us that everything is ok. Poor little Solomon all wet! But with lovely tears. Xx

      Reply

  6. leamuse
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:09:48

    Christine, it took me over 14 years to be able to write about my daughter. It was nothing compared to what you have here but the water flowed… It is one of my early posts on the poetry blog and titled And The Rain Fell…

    Reply

  7. journeyintopoetry
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 15:19:14

    Thank you very much David.

    Yes, he certainly had a strong faith. It was a privilege to be able to be with him in the precious moments before he drifted contentedly off to a new place.

    Much love
    Christine
    Xxx

    Reply

  8. Peter Wells aka Countingducks
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 15:26:49

    Beautiful and moving

    Reply

  9. lscotthoughts
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 16:03:17

    Chris, this is just so beautiful and you have me teary-eyed. I think of my Mom and my last conversation with her, then I think of Dad still with us, at 94. The lines I loved the most were:

    “your whole life in a cradle of time,
    and it weighed next to nothing –

    except for your smile.
    Your smile was stronger than ever,
    big enough to carry us all
    as it led you, without doubt,
    to a place you had always believed in
    and where you were sure
    we would meet again.”

    Life and it’s emotions…wonderful memory of your Dad’s last moments…Big Hugs! β™₯

    Reply

  10. journeyintopoetry
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 16:45:48

    Thanks so much Lauren.

    The moments just before he died were very precious. He seemed so content. And still looking after us, his three girls, reassuring us.

    Your dad looks great! And to be still active as he is at 94 is wonderful. Enjoy your time with him when he comes to stay! 😊

    Love and big hugs
    Xxx

    Reply

  11. Caddo
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 19:20:15

    I had a moment of crazy anxiety, as I thought I’d already read and commented–but it was at Poet’s Corner. Whew, relief, I haven’t lost my mind already today. This is certainly worth a 2nd read, or more–such tenderness and love, such peace in the passing on. Wonderful, just wonderful Chris–and I LOVED Janette’s comment….oh I want to hug you all, my English family. Hs and Ss, Caddo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 22, 2013 @ 19:57:05

      Aww thank you so much Caddo my lovely friend. No you havent lost your mind!

      He was very special and loved by all of us. We all miss him loads but Im sure he is ok.

      Sparkly Hs and Ss

      Reply

  12. Jackie
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 19:55:36

    A beautiful and poignant poem! XX

    Reply

  13. triciabertram
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 22:33:57

    A wonderful, loving poem that gives someone like me, who never knew him, a sense of what a special man he was.
    Beautifully written my friend
    Much love
    Tricia xoxo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 23, 2013 @ 11:05:04

      Thank you Tricia my lovely friend,

      A friend lost her father this week suddenly and it brought back the memory of my own dad’s happy death. That sounds such a contradiction but its exactly how it was. He was a very special man and I miss him lots.

      Lots of love and hugs
      Xxx.

      Reply

  14. kathryningrid
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 23:31:02

    Exquisite poem. Love and faith shine through in every line. I can’t imagine a better way to die–or to go on living when a dear one dies–than in the strong and tender embrace of such love and confidence.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 23, 2013 @ 11:10:57

      Thank you very much Kathryn.

      It sounds rather strange to hear myself say that the day he died was very special, but he was still teaching me right to the end (or new beginning) about love, hope and faith. Im not sure mine is as strong as his always seemed, maybe it is but I do know he is with me every day, still guiding me and giving me his unconditional love.
      😊

      I think the difference between him and me is that he knew exactly what he believed in. I believe in something but Im not even sure what it is.

      Reply

  15. Through My Eyes
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 05:44:34

    Beautiful Christine. It brought a tear to my eye and gave me goosebumps. Beautifully written. Hugs xxxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 23, 2013 @ 11:13:46

      Thank you very much Norma. It was a truly precious moment and when he asked about his grandma I was the was only one in the room with him and my two sisters found it hard to believe he said it, but he did, and very definitely too.

      Hugs and love
      Xx

      Reply

  16. beckarooney
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 17:19:14

    A beautifully written, emotive poem Christine, this must have been so hard for you to write. It sounds like your dad was a very special man, I’m sure wherever he is now he’s proud of you πŸ™‚ x

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 23, 2013 @ 19:25:06

      Thank you very much Becky; I always appreciate you encouraging comments.

      I think it was more difficult for my family to read than it was for me to write. I have wanted to write about this for a while but couldnt. I clearly wasnt ready. But it just seemed to happen and felt right. Xx

      Reply

      • beckarooney
        Nov 26, 2013 @ 20:19:45

        You’re welcome Christine, my pleasure πŸ™‚
        It can take a long time for feelings like this to express themselves, grief bottles things up. Xx

  17. bardessdmdenton
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 20:18:47

    There is no doubt that your dad was very special, Christine, shining through in the way he ‘left’ you and your family, and the words that have come from you, through you, from his looking over all those he loved. I can feel the fun, the warmth, the strength, the acceptance, the devotion he imparted in life and is still offering in the hereafter. This is such a beautiful poem, a prayer of hope and belief, more about his life and lasting influence, than his death. Just lovely. Certainly, one of your best. Hugs. β™₯

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 24, 2013 @ 09:48:05

      Thank you so much Diane; this lovely comment warmed my heart because you captured the very essence of him with your words which means, for me, that the poem worked. He was a very special man and I think about him at some point every day I think, and mum too. I was blessed to have them both.

      Love and hugs ❀xx

      Reply

  18. Libby
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 14:57:38

    This is so moving Christine. A wonderful tribute to a much loved father.

    Reply

  19. PookyH
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 19:58:57

    This is such a beautiful and moving memory – I hope that I’ll still be smiling as my final moments come to pass. x

    Reply

  20. tikarmavodicka
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 02:29:16

    Hi Christine,

    This is a most beautiful poem and such a touching tribute to your father.
    It warms my heart for you that you have known such love in your life and your father passed peacefully and with a smile.
    I hope in writing this poem it brought back many good memories and some comfort along with them. πŸ™‚

    Wishing you a lovely week.
    With much love and
    (((Big warm hugs)))
    Tikarma
    Xoxoxox

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 26, 2013 @ 09:50:03

      Hi Tikarma,

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment.

      I do, indeed, feel blessed to have had such a loving special man in my life. He died a few years ago but the poem came after a young friend of mine lost her father suddenly and far too young last week.

      The memories I have of my dad seem to grow in size and appreciation as the years go by. And those for my mum too. I just had to give her a mention as she is always close by too. 😊

      Lots of love and
      (((BIG WARM HUGS)))
      Christine
      Xxx

      Lots of

      Reply

  21. suzywordmuser
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 21:14:47

    It feels like you set the scene so well here Christine, I really get a clear picture of this eventful moment!β™₯ And it reminds me quite a bit of when my mother died, strangely early in May too! And I don’t find this so much sad, but very reflective of a life of a parent. It’s odd how quickly those years go, everyone tells you that when you are a kid, but you never really get it – until that day. And then it all seems so short, and, can this really be all there is? I felt a little bit – ‘Is the show over already!?’

    I like the way that you seem to have had some conversation, that’s really good to hear you got that opportunity, it’s very important. My neighbour told me recently about the profound effect it had on him being with his grandmother when she died, and the conversation he had with her, as if she was tidying up all the loose ends! I think it does the living more good than the dying to see that going on. Sudden deaths can leave relatives feeling distraught and empty, and deaths where the dying person is heavily sedated due to drugs, is so common now, and that’s not good either. I had that with my mother, in fact I’d go so far as to say it hastened her death quite a lot. I’m pretty certain she could hear me, but she could barely move a muscle let alone speak. I know that wouldn’t have been what she wanted, but that’s an entirely different subject, one I could go on about at length!!

    I like the conversation at the end, your dad asking if his grandmother wast there. During visits to see my mother in various hospitals, I came across that, slipping into the long and distant past from a lot of elderly people dying. And sometimes it can occur weeks before, it did with my mum. I’m sure the brain is well aware, it’s nearly over, and flicks back in time so easily. An who knows maybe there is a spiritual reason for that, I’d like to think there is, and we do meet them all again when we move on. But I’m not sure what to believe these days – my jury is still out at the moment on if there’s a God and if we carry on in spirit form. But I hope my doubts turn out to be wrong, because it would make everything we have gone through so much more worthwhile! πŸ™‚

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 28, 2013 @ 15:30:10

      Thank you very much Suzy! im glad you don’t find it sad but rather reflective, as this was the intention. It seems strange to talk of a happy death but that is exactly what this was. He was 92 and I think he had done everything he wanted to do and graciously accepted his failing body. .

      And I totally agree with you about when we are children; life seems timeless and then suddenly wham! Where did all the years go? Yes it would be lovely to think there is something after this here on earth, but my jury is atill out too on this one. Although hearing what my dad had to say… Well what do I know? Not much really!! 😊 Xx

      Reply

  22. Francina
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 13:45:20

    Beautiful , moving and comforting poem, dear Christine! Your love for your dad is written out with every word. My dad passed away when I was twenty one but after all the years that have gone by I always remember him smiling too ..Comforting thought.
    lots of love and hugs xoxo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 28, 2013 @ 14:57:59

      Thank you Francina. Those moments I had with my dad on his last day here will always remain very special. He even winked at us all (his three girls) like he always did, his look of reassurance for us which always made us feel safe.

      However many years o by I think those memories stay as strong as ever.

      Lots of love and hugs
      Xxx

      Reply

  23. Angela
    Dec 02, 2013 @ 18:48:44

    A truly beautiful poem, Christine. As I read it, it was like a piano played softly to my soul – I was hearing your song.
    Lots of love to you,
    xxx

    Reply

  24. harulawordsthatserve
    Dec 04, 2013 @ 18:59:50

    What a moving poem – wow. I especially love the clouds/pillows image – very clever, capturing the veil between heaven and earth. This is what poetry’s all about for me – capturing those HUGE moments, and giving them just enough words to give the reader their own opportunity to feel the hugeness, humanness and just ‘darn life happening’ that they capture. You’re so good at putting emotion in without any sentimentality. Chapeau my friend. Hugs, H xxxxxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Dec 05, 2013 @ 17:57:29

      Thank you so much Harula for your heartwarming comment. It means such a lot to me. It took a long time to be able to write his, but it feels good ro have done it now.

      Lots of love and blessings
      Xxx

      Reply

  25. Jane Thorne
    Dec 09, 2013 @ 18:36:38

    Oh Chris, I haven’t got the words to describe how this moved me, but it did on a very deep level. Such love and thank you for sharing. ❀ Xxx

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Dec 09, 2013 @ 18:50:31

      Thank you so much Jane. Ive no idea where the poem came from; dad died 9 years ago. It must have become the right time to put my feelngs into words.

      Im so glad we caught up again! I dont know what happened to my following of your blog. I will have to have words with WP! D’you know what it said to me the other day when i tried to comment on someone’s poem? It woudnt allow me to comment and on a blank page it said, “you are posting too many comments, slow down”!! It was my rirst omment of the day! I could have taken my bat home, 😊

      Love and hugs
      Xxx

      Reply

  26. Blackbird
    Dec 14, 2013 @ 21:13:12

    Your writing is gorgeous! So glad I found this blog. And this poem is beautiful. Keep writing! I wrote a poem about my father after he died…it’s a little different, but I would love to know what you think…if you get a chance…it’s called “broken”…on my blog elevenfifty9.wordpress.com. Anyway…I truly love your writing! I will keep reading-whether you ever get a chance to read mine or not. Thank you!

    Reply

  27. Betty Hayes Albright
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 20:44:46

    Oh Christine – another one that’s just beautiful and so touching. And I love your last words to your dad and believe they were true. She WAS there.

    You need to publish another book – so many great poems. (It’s a pleasure to be catching up with your blog!)

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Jan 07, 2014 @ 20:49:22

      Thank you so much Betty, for this lovely comment, and also for catching up with so ma y, I really do appreciate your visits so much.

      Yes, those moments were very precious with my dad; I could hardly believe his death could feel so positive. I will never forget that day.

      Much love and big hugs
      xxx

      Reply

  28. mishunderstood
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 04:51:28

    This is absolutely beautiful…..

    Reply

  29. Jennifer's Journal
    Nov 22, 2014 @ 22:52:23

    This poem is astonishing. I saw my dad again through your words.
    Jennifer xo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 23, 2014 @ 09:54:04

      Thank you Jennifer, Im pleasedt the poem resonated with you. And thank you for giving me the chance to reconnect with my dad this morning by reading the poem again; it’s always nice to return to something I wrote a while ago.
      Andt thank you very much for the reblog too. xx

      Reply

  30. Jennifer's Journal
    Nov 22, 2014 @ 22:59:47

    Reblogged this on Jennifer's Journal and commented:
    I’m too tired from novel writing to come up with anything of my own this week, so I’m sharing a post from Journey Into Poetry. Christine is one of my favorite bloggers for the poems she writes.
    Here is one I found especially moving. Love and miss you, Dad. x

    Reply

  31. Minuscule Moments
    Nov 23, 2014 @ 20:13:29

    Christine I am glad Jennifer reblogged this one I was not following you at the time and it is not in your poetry book you gave me. It is beautiful x.

    Reply

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