Before all was said
The thoughts returned
The anger and rage
About the infliction of pain
Suffering and loss
I’m trusting Your wisdom
In putting us through this
For You know of pain, suffering, and loss too
Now it’s time for Your guidance
Show us benevolence
By taking care of our family
And leaving us out of the pain game for awhile

We’ve just met
And I can tell what a good soul you are
So much of your brother emits from you
That I can’t help think
You guys did right by each other
There are times when I see him and
Hear him as I’m learning of you
But those visions are always in your way
All Jim, coincidently Dick

I get the sense
You enjoy hitting that white ball
Just excited to be out on the course
Posting happiness as your score
No matter how many strokes it takes
I also get the sense
You are a romantic at heart
Gentle, loving, and just as important
To your close family
As Poppi was to us
And as he was to you
I’m feeling your pain not just as loss, but
Also with experience
Having lost my brother all too soon
And just as you said at the cemetery
“It just doesn’t make sense,”

It never does

And on those days
When I’m chili dippin’ wedges around the green
Or wishing the fates had been different
For my brother
I think back to the good times
Playing with blocks
Riding roller coasters, or
Just talking with my brother
And the peace returns to my feelings
How I wish we met under different circumstances
But we share great memories of a great man
And the tragedy of losing a brother

Peace be with us

The day is long lately
Seeing the family in pain
Makes my own grief
Hurt all that much more
Finding a way to manage these emotions
Seems to be a bug
With no cure
But what works better than time
Are those old country tunes on 434
Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Johnny Cash
They each sing of lives tortured, tempted, and
Just the way we liked
Three country singing guys pouring out emotions
Detailing their failures, mistakes, and
Just like us
At Azteca, on the deck, or
In a silent code
Two country music loving
White haired dudes
Sharing their feelings for their wives, kids, and
Each other
The shock is waning
The grief is not
The battle though between feeling helpless and
Is starting to turn
As I think of the positive memories
Before our loss

These days of loss take a toll…
Each person trying to make sense
Of the emptiness, sadness, and hope
Each person hoping the pain
Will quickly slide away
Leaving something positive behind

These days of loss take a toll…
Four times now
It has gotten too close to me
Four times now
I’m still confused about dying
And nothing seems to be getting easier to understand
But goodness still comes through

These days of loss take a toll…
By my reckoning
I’ve lost to addiction, choice, disability, and fate
By my reckoning
There is no rhyme, no reason to these losses
Only the whim of unknown forces
Leaving us to sort our lessons and memories

These days of loss take a toll…
Having allowed me to reflect
On the magnitude of my remorse
Having allowed me to reflect
On the greatness of the men
Who in their passing
Have allowed me to become a better man

My grandfather, his demons bottled
His weakness well known
And directed away from me
His weakness well known
A downfall to be respected
I miss his cigarettes, his easy listening music, his waterfall toilet
Most of all, I miss him

My brother, his battles mighty
His weakness well known
As a sense of honor set insanely high
His weakness well known
And unable to live with the betrayal of others
I miss his prickly hair, his goofy smile, his love of classic rock
Most of all, I miss him

My other grandfather, his illness harbored
His weakness well known
In the duty and honor of stillness and hard work
His weakness well known
In the image of a humble handy man
I miss his short finger, his buttermilk and corn bread, his quiet power
Most of all, I miss him

My father-in-law, his destiny ordained
His weakness well known
Born in duty and humility
His weakness well known
As a stately family man
I miss his laugh, his handshake, his curiosity
Most of all, I miss him

Each man
With so much to give
Gave all he had
So we could be better
Their lives sometimes bitter
Other times sweet
Left with us the power to continue
Their legacies
Of durability, trust, ethos, and family

I give thanks for their influence
Showing me that even in weakness
Strengths will rise
So that in these latest days of loss
We can rally, remember, and recover

At 19, I could not have imagined
Being a part of my life
At 46, I cannot imagine
Being a part of a teen’s life

Yesterday a young woman
Just under twenty
Asked her teacher for a pass to the bathroom
There she gave birth


Unable to make sense of her reality
She attempted to lose the baby
First in a toilet
Then just with the other refuse
In a trash can

The circumstances of the child’s life are
Born alive, born dead
Either way a tragedy
The circumstances of this adult’s life
Probably too tragic from now on
To begin to make sense of

Which makes me so confused
As a Health teacher
Because we can’t educate decision making
And the girl and her partner
Made a potential life
Without the maturity
To be ready for the consequences
Of pregnancy’s fickleness
She probably had classes
About the birds and the bees
But never experienced what real
Consequences were like
She probably had potential support networks
Somehow ending up alone
To have and lose her baby
In her high school bathroom