Search This Blog

November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks to Readers and Contributors

“Nothing is more honorable
than a grateful heart.”

While I know that Thanksgiving is mostly a North American holiday, I believe it "shares" easily. Our family tradition on Thanksgiving Day always included talking about what we were grateful for. 

This Thanksgiving 2011, I am especially grateful for the readers who have visited this blog. Thank you for "stopping by." I hope you have felt, as some readers have told me, that you were understood and supported here, that you were walking along a path where someone had taken you by the hand. One of the most important truths anyone can know during a time of loss or difficulty is that you are not alone.

To the contributors to this blog, I say thank you with all my heart. People in the UK, US, Russia, Germany, India, Argentina, Australia, Canada and Nova Scotia, Spain, the Philippines, and Germany, among other countries, have read your work. It has spoken to them, been meaningful to them, as it certainly has been to me. As a fellow writer, I am grateful to have connected with each and every one of you. Your artistry, I believe, makes this blog unique among other grief-support and grief-recovery resources. Thank you... and please continue to contribute!

A blessed time of Thanksgiving to all.

November 17, 2011

Weathering Life

The following two poems are by Rebecca Elizabeth Boyle, a university student in Australia. They show how our personal "weathers" can change in all senses of the term. Quite a bit has been written that compares grief to weather in various ways.

The summers in which my father and sister passed away were drought-ridden. The many natural deaths that resulted from those droughts made me feel both more alone in my grief and more accompanied.  As I watched trees lose their leaves out of season, plants of many years go brown and die, and birds and squirrels suffer or die from lack of water, I felt an acute sense of being surrounded by sorrow and a sense of being part of, of even belonging to, a hard world where rain can disappear and nature, too, has to bear death unexpectedly and out of season. During those times, I have also been fortunate to have friends willing to walk through the drought--internal and external--with me.

Rebecca Elizabeth's poems start at the opposite point, though, with watery words....

by Rebecca Elizabeth Boyle

Let it rain, let it rain,
I need something to wash away this pain.
I’ve twisted everything around,
Gained nothing,
And nothing is ever found.
All I ever feel is down.
I have no way to stand on my own ground.

Drink it down, for a drunken smile
Will replace this sober frown.
I have all these voices in my head
As I lie restless in bed.

I rock and shake while I cry on the floor,
I want to don’t want to be alone anymore.
Can you call my name and let it echo,
Until I learn to follow?
Sadness will weep into sorrow,
Lasting for tomorrow,
and tomorrow and tomorrow.


The Weather of Friends
by Rebecca Elizabeth Boyle
There are people in life that set apart the rest,
These are the ones whom you meet,
and you never are the same again.

What makes those people different could be as simple
as a facial expression or a hand gesture; but with you,
it is the simple smile you do when you get grumpy
and suddenly realise there is no point in it.

Conformity does not stand out;
those with flare have a mist of individuality.
You chose to make these simple actions,
which places you into this mist.

There is never a dull moment with you;
an  argument with you is never won.
If I could compare you to a particular weather,
it would be a hurricane—
calm one moment and a mission of emotions the next.
You have the softer side,
which some have yet to see,
but slowly, you are revealing little parts to me,
like dancing in the rain when others run for cover.
To lose you, and these moments that
are clear in my mind, would be devastating,
You are the shoulder I run to,
the one that always completely listens.
Everyday I can find myself thinking,
“If everything will stay the same....”

Times change, people change,
but I hope from this day forward, we never will.
My friendship is offered to you on a silver platter,
please, just take it and run with it.


Rebecca Elizabeth Boyle came into this world in 1992 and describes herself as a mission of emotions. She loves simple things like blowing bubbles and dancing in the rain, has a contagious laugh, and believes that you can do nothing stronger than be and stay true to yourself. Also see: All Poetry.

Poems, copyright Rebecca Elizabeth Boyle, all rights reserved.
Images, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa, all rights reserved.

November 13, 2011

Remembering a Wise and Grand Grandfather

Here is a touching poem about a grandfather--a grandfather who was a gift in someone's life. I know that Cecil Rendon is not alone in having the wonderful, God-given experience of finding family that we are connected to by a kind of spiritual blood line. All too often, the world does not acknowledge our grief when we lose a friend who was truly a part of our family. All too often, the world hears that your "friend" died, and few stand ready to understand that grief for the loss of such a friend is no less than grief for those who were born into the branches of our biological "family tree."

In the note that came with his poem, Cecil wrote: "I had a great time with my grandfather. Even now I can hardly believe that he passed away. My friends and family helped me go through the grieving process, and community involvement and keeping myself busy at home helps a lot. I can now smile as I look back on those happy days with my grandfather."

Cecil lives in a small town near Cebu in the Philippines. This poem is the first one I've posted where the poet has written in a second language. It's a great example of how English can "stretch" and sound beautiful and be meaningful in new ways. When I first read Cecil's poem, I felt as though I could see his grandfather, Lolo Andot. Above all, I felt that I could see this wise old gentleman smile. Surely, wherever he is now, he is smiling about this poem and about having "inherited" such a special grandchild.


Image by raclro of iStock Photo

In Grandfather’s Memory
(a.k.a. Lolo Andot)

by Cecil Rendon

I could never have had a wonderful childhood without you,
A life full of memories to ponder,
And moments when we lingered with each other
As we shared laughs on our simple jokes.

Elementary years were tough,
But you were there to keep me smiling,
To show me the beauty of nature
And how blessed the crops were, nurtured by your hands.

Can’t forget how we fetched water
From the spring in Talamban to your house on the hill,
How excited we were to dance and play up in the trees
While you and grandma prepared our food.

The beauty of that simple lifestyle up the hill
Brought joy to your face as you welcomed us.
The bayabas*, butong* and buto-buto* we liked.
You were always happy to render service in exchange for
that indescribable feeling of being close to nature.

High school days arrived.
You lived near the street
For then you aged like withered leaves,
Yet the beauty of your heart captured everyone else’s heart.

Everyday you smoked tobacco
And in the afternoon sat on that street bench,
Smiled at those people who passed by.
Thus evening came—you went to your “office”
at your neighbor’s house and spent time playing  pong-baraha*.

I saw how your eyes glittered when you won that game,
For I stayed long at your house, even
Though you’re not my grandfather in blood,
Yet I highly respected you.

You spoke well in English as mirror of Spanish regime
I saw how you lost weight and life seemed to fade from your face.
Pain enveloped me, for I witnessed how you withered from
That full-bloomed plant you once were
The thought of losing you . . .

Death came…
Still I can feel the warmth of your body
As I undressed you--life in you finally fading.
I saw how bony your body,
Like those bare branches stretching through winter time

I shed tears, for I lost my grandpa
In my heart–to your families’ hearts.
Memories of you remain;
You’re a great grandfather to us and will stay that way.

I never forget how you smiled, Lolo Andot,
The care I had from you.
With all my heart I say, “ I love you, Lolo, and miss you.”
You’re always in our hearts and thoughts.
Rest in peace as angels sing.


* Bayabas means guava. Butong is a young coconut. Buto-buto is a kind of fruit, often eaten by birds, but one that humans may eat also. Pong-baraha is a card game.

Poem, copyright Cecil Rendon, all rights reserved.
Text, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa.

November 3, 2011

Power and the Moment

The following poem is by Donal Mahoney. Although the connection to the presence of friends is quite subtle, it is there. In fact, it can be a rare experience to read a poem that contains both deep subtlety and great power in it--and to find these two qualities in a dynamic balance with each other. This is indeed what you will find in this poem. And something else. 

Shakespeare's tragedies invite our reading, study and attendance because they are presented to us with great skill and art. To write of tragedy without such skill with language would create the equivalent of a news item. To invest the best of our language, its structure, its depth and subtlety in the portrayal of loss is a form of redemption. It creates beauty where, most likely, there was none... not in that raw moment. Plumbing the language in this way also gives us structure, as though a poem or play becomes a prism, and as we look through it, we see multiple points of view.  Donal's poem takes the rough, raw iron ore of life--and grief-- and from this, creates a meaningful and beautiful form.

Bull and Bullock
Donal Mahoney

The other night abed, Father,
propped upon an elbow, dropped
and died.  Earlier that week, Mother
gave me Anthony to hold when
Father threw a fist, missed

and bellowed through the door.
I did not see the biggest of them
bear him back. But at the wake
they spoke of how he ran,
fell across a fence and swayed there.

I was in another room,
giving Mother Anthony to hold,
and I remember how,
clairvoyantly for once,
she wept there.

Before computers were invented, Donal Mahoney worked as an editor for the The Chicago Sun-Times. During that era and since then, he has had poems published in The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal Magazine, Catapult to Mars (Scotland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), The Camel Saloon, Dead Snakes and other publications. Revising poems on a computer, he says, beats the hell out of revising them on a typewriter.  You can read more of Donal's poetry here.
Poem, copyright Donal Mahoney, All rights reserved.
Images, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa