After Our Daughter’s Death

Our home became a house.
A house on an island instead of outside of town.

Our ears became open wounds.
Words became salt.

We took Sadness in as a boarder.
We don’t remember inviting Sadness to stay.

Sadness practiced magical spells
that turned our blood to sludge.

Sadness promised to pay us monthly
with a bucket of tears.

A few people rented their respects to us.
They charged late fees on the returns.

We had not read friendship’s fine print.
No wonder our friend numbers contracted.

Our island was washed away
by a bomb cyclone divorce storm.

Our neighbors were relieved by our absence.
Our friends had no clue where the far shore was.

In divorce we split Sadness in two.
She kept both of the dogs.

I let my half of Sadness go so I could hold on to Loneliness.
They were kissing cousins willing to share me.

The day I lost eighteen hours in a blue ocean
was the day I understood I needed a life boat.

I built a life boat out of poetry and therapists
and bicycling and the wooded landscape.

Sadness helped keep the life boat afloat
by paying up on its overdue rent.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


It is coming up on 30 years since all of this happened. It still touches me from time to time. One of the disadvantages of memory. I remember my therapist telling me that 85% of couples who lose a child end up in divorce by the end of the first year after the loss. In some ways I think the divorce was the start of moving on from the loss.

In the poem I am a little hard on friends. I should not be. We were all in our late 20s early 30s and no one knew how to deal with this sort of tragedy. Learning curve mistakes were made by everyone.

I hope none of you suffer a heart breaking loss like this in your life time. Be generous of spirit with yourself if it does. Be full of emotions as well. If you hold onto the pain of the tragedy too long it will twist your growing.

I am feeling it all over again as I write this postscript. Not in a bad way. Feelings with a reminder of sadness and weariness. It will calm down when I am ten minutes out from typing.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


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