Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Playing with John

This one is for Michelle.

Others can read it, too, because who knows who else might benefit from hearing it. 

But this one is for Michelle.

Yesterday, Michelle posted on Facebook: “Just had a memory of something Tyler had recently started to do.  She would put one hand up in front of her chest and in imitation of Mom say, ‘Be right back.’  If only.

Her words were like a time machine, transporting me back to my Grandma’s funeral just over a year ago.  My aunt was at the podium, sharing a poem my Grandma had written years before.  I’ve gushed previously about the incredible woman my grandmother was, but I don’t think I ever mentioned that her earthly trials included burying two of her three sons (my dad being the only living boy).  Her youngest child, my Uncle John, died tragically of carbon monoxide poisoning when he was only sixteen years old.

After his death, my grandmother wrote a poem about his life and her certainty that she would see him again.  After a recap of his infancy, childhood, and early teen years she continued,

Each day as he came in and out of the house,
Just briefly by me he’d pause;
He’d give a quick hug and a kiss
And then hurry on to a cause.

He’d also greet me just the same each time
As he passed through the room on his way.
“Hi, Mom,” he would call as he hurried by,
And to him “Hi, John,” I would say.

He’s gone from us now; it was such a short time--
He was here only sixteen brief years.
Each time that I think “I can’t see him today”
My eyes begin flooding with tears.

This time, they are tears of great pain
And ones that won’t stop their flow.
Even though I know that he’s gone home,
It doesn’t change missing him so.

He must have been anxious to return to his home.
And Heavenly parents he’d not wanted to leave;
But if I try to do the good things in life,
I’ll be with him again, I believe.

It will be a great time, and day, and place
Whether it be sunset or dawn.
“Hi, Mom,” he will say as he walks by,
To which I’ll reply, “Hi, John.”

Left to Right: Grandpa (Oscar), Dad (Charlie), Aunt Teresa, Aunt Sally, Uncle Butch, Grandma (Shirley)
Front Row: Uncle John

My mom also experienced the loss of a child. When I was ten years old, I anxiously awaited the arrival of a baby brother. But for reasons unknown, he died on his due date before ever taking his first earthly breath. In lieu of a funeral, my parents opted for a backyard memorial service. And instead of a headstone, we planted a tree.

The day after Tyler died, Michelle told me that she had been thinking a lot about Grandma and my mom and the trials they had endured.  She told me that she had been considering the incredible mother and grandmother each continued to be, even after her respective John had died.  And Michelle said simply, “I just keep telling myself, if Grandma and Mom could do it, I can do it.”

And so I have to tell Michelle that she has never reminded me more of Grandma Casdorph than she did yesterday with her straightforward post.  And I have to apologize for feeling compelled to follow up with a bit of what may turn out to be terrible poetry (with Grandma’s original text in italics).

“Be right back,” she said with a hand to her chest,
Without understanding of years.
Being, as ever, so close to the veil
She couldn’t imagine our tears.

[She] must have been anxious to return to her home.
And Heavenly parents she’d not wanted to leave;
But if [we] try to do the good things in life,
[We]’ll be with her again, I believe.

She knew that we’d only be parted awhile,
But she didn’t guess we would keep track.
So now she looks down with a hand to her chest,
“Don’t cry. You’re the one who’ll come back.”

It will be a great time, and day, and place
Whether it be sunset or dawn.
“[You’re back!” she] will say as [she] walks by,

“I've just been up here playing with John!"