I received a letter…a formal one…in the mail…out of the blue

apprising me of a relative’s death…one I never knew.


Since I’m a distant relation…to me his information was released

He never married, had no children or siblings and his parents are deceased.


And I remember thinking to myself as I read this letter through…

Is it possible that my heart can ache for a man I never knew?


Yes it is…because I was overcome with a feeling about this man I’d never known

and I felt a wave of sadness thinking…he might have died alone.


I began to wonder what his life was like now that his swan song has been sung.

Was he shy or kind or gentle?  Was he nervous or high-strung?


Did he have a lot of friends? I hope so.  What color were his eyes?

Was he the type of person who could laugh and dance and cry?


Did he like art or music…did he ever scream or shout?

Did he play it safe throughout his life…or take the scenic route?


Did he have someone who believed in him?

Did he own any pets?

When he knew his life was ending…

did he have any regrets?


Did his life have it’s share of joy and laughter

of sorrows sadness and woes?

of course these are some of the many questions whose answers

I will never know.


And it made me think if I had one wish

for this man…and anyone who dies I haven’t known

It would be that their life had been a happy one


and that they did not die alone.

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A woman I did not know and had never met before

stopped in the other day when no one else was in the store


She brought a book into the bookstore…that’s a little odd I thought

then she asked if I had read the book…I said that I had not.


She looked into my eyes, smiled and nodded her head.

then proceeded to ask me questions about the book I hadn’t read.


It really didn’t matter that I could not answer her whos or whats or whys

because once she asked the questions she didn’t wait for my replies.


She kept the conversation going without me about the book I hadn’t read

While I listened, smiled and every now and then politely nodded my head.


But in the midst of her barrage of words…as I listened to her speak 

I heard amidst her chattering…that her sister died last week.


I almost missed them when they first floated by…

so I waited a moment 

and then

as I listened more intently…

they floated by again.


She said she hadn’t been out much since her sister died and decided to take a walk

I imagine she was sad…and lonely…and just stopped in to talk.


So I kept right on listening and nodding and on my face I kept a smile

as she kept our one-sided conversation going for a while.


She thanked me as she left the store…you’re welcome was all I could say

wishing I could have done a little more to help push her sadness away.


And even though she did all the talking

and not one word had I said

It was the best conversation I’ve ever had


about a book I hadn’t read.

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On the gloomy day of his Grandma’s funeral

at the cemetery…he was trying to be brave

but when it came time to go back home…he could not leave her grave.


He stood their all alone…wondering if anyone would understand

until his mother walked up beside him and gently took his hand.


“A day like today shows us how our heart can ache…how much it can bleed…

I will miss her too!” she said. “Take all the time you need.”


“I’ve been thinking of all the times I walked into her arms.” He said.

“What makes me sad today is that I’ll never walk into them again…

from today…I only walk away.”


“And from today every step we take”, his mother said

“every minute, every hour, every day

as unfair as it is…takes us farther and farther away."


“I don’t want Grandma to be sad.” he nodded…”I don’t want to upset her.

I don’t want her to think, now that’s she’s gone, I ever will forget her.”


The mother smiled, squeezed his hand and said, “There’s something you should know.

Grandma will always be a part of you…she’ll never let you go.”


“You cannot forget someone you love…they stay a lot closer than they seem

Grandma will pop up any time you think about her…any time you dream.”


He looked up at his mothers as their tears began to flow

Then smiling through his tears he said, “I guess it’s time to go.”


HIs mother nodded, ‘Yes it is…don’t worry, Grandma will understand.”

and they walked away together…silently…hand in hand.


Suddenly the sun peeked through the clouds 

and with his face illuminated by her beams

he turned around

waved goodbye to his grandma saying,


“I will see you in my dreams.”

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He loved her with all his heart

which made him wonder how would he ever know

when it's time to say goodbye

when it's time to let her go?


He was thinking about their life together

when his heart let out a sigh

as he knelt down and held her hand he wondered...

Was it was time to say goodbye?


He sat there with her hand in his

in silence for a while

until he noticed from her eyes…a tear

and on her lips…a smile.


He leaned over whispered, “I love you.”

then gently kissed her on her head.

"I will always love you.” 

are the last words she ever said.


Suddenly the answer came to him

as his tears began to flow…

He found the strength to say goodbye


knowing he will never let her go.

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He can’t explain it logically

but once he found her…

the person he adored

his heart felt like it grew…

larger than it had ever been before.


And when she died

when she was finally gone…

never more to be

he wondered if what he felt 

was his heart breaking

or simply 


returning to the size it used to be

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When our grandma died as a family we were heartbroken, confused…and sad

to understand how to act…we looked to our mom and dad.


It’s never easy to say goodbye…so many feelings get in the way

We search through our emotions for soothing words to say.


Mom and Dad said Grandma was important to all of us…

how we all loved her smile, her warmth her glow…

They told us the fact we shared so much love with her…

is what makes her death hurt so…


It’s all the wonderful memories we made with her they said

that’s makes her death unfair….

all the good times we had leave us saddened 

for all the good times we’ll no longer share…


The places we’ll never visit with her…the happiness she’ll no longer bring

The cookies she’ll no longer bake…the songs she’ll no longer sing…


Then Emma, the oldest daughter, said, we will miss her I’m sure this is true

but won’t Grandma, once she gets up to heaven…won’t she be missing us too?


This is when Mom and Dad got an idea…they ran to the kitchen, opened a drawer

when they returned they set it in front of us…what would become known as Grandma’s jar.


They handed us some paper and pencils and said, “Write down what Grandma meant to you.”

We’ll put all your writings in this jar…so Grandma can remember them too.


“But how will she read it from heaven?” Emma asked.

Dad said, “Emma, at the end of the day

your grandma is pretty resourceful…

I’m sure she will find a way”.


“And we will leave this jar unopened,” Mom said, 

“so whenever something happens you’d like to share

just drop a note into the jar…Grandma will take if from there.”


And we wrote notes to Grandma from that moment on 

until the time came we were all grown

At that point as we left our house we were given a jar of our own…


I like to think Grandma is always watching…

but if she’s too busy up there among the stars…

If she wants to know what I’ve been up too…


all she has to do is look in her jar.

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There is a specific kind of loneliness when you lose someone you love

It is difficult to explain…

For some it’s like a hole in their heart…

For others…a permanent stain.


It’s specific for each person

We have our own joys…our own agonies

housed within our hearts…in specific memories


We spend our years making these memories…from every January to December….

after a person dies we spend the rest of our years

trying to remember….


We easily remember the big moments…momentous laugher…meaningful tears

But we find as our mind searches through its memories

It’s the little things we hold dear.


It’s a smile shared from across a room

It’s walks together in the sand

It’s seeing the sparkle in their eyes

It’s quietly holding hands.


It’s a hug for no reason whatsoever…just to show how much we care

It’s a kiss on the back of the neck…It’s those quiet moments that we shared…


When that specific loneliness enters our life…we have no choice but to face it…

But if we’re lucky for every moment of loneliness

we have a memory to replace it…


And when we stop and think it through…when into our memories we dig…

We wonder at what point in life…all our little things became so big? 


And though we know nothing will ever take away the ache

it is possible for the pain to be appeased

by filling up our specific loneliness


with specific memories…


He was the great procrastinator

He had a knack…a way

of putting off until tomorrow

what he should have done today…


His life was filled with ‘not todays’

Many responsibilities he would shun

When he looked at a task, “Not today!” he would say 

and many things he left undone


As he was about to die 

his family sat by his bed to pray

they asked if he was ready 

he smiled… “Not today”.


“There’s still so much I want to see.” he said

“So much I want do.  

tomorrow I’ll be ready instead

perhaps…when the day is new”.


“Not today.” he said with a sigh

“there’re still a few lessons I’d like to instill.”

“Not today.” he repeated …  “and here is why…

they’re still a few promises I’ve yet to fill.”


But death is unsympathetic.

We don’t get to choose the day

“Not today.” he whispered the last time closed his eyes


and silently drifted away.

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So many questions in this world we cannot answer…

No one can tell us why…

Why do tragedies happen everyday?

Why do children have to die? 


This is the story of one child…

I wish I was singing a happier tune

but this child’s story is over…it ended much too soon.


She did not enter this world peacefully…although her birth was a joyous day

there were complications from the beginning…and more obstacles along the way.


Her story ended a few days ago…at least now she’s out of harm…

She has a place in heaven…she’s in the angel’s arms.


Her parents handled each setback with dignity…with courage…and with grace….

as they tried to cope with the kind of heartache no family should face.


There were trips to hospitals and surgeries…so much going on inside her

and her parents shared her pain and suffering as they stood stoically beside her.


It is a testament to their love…that as they suffered through the haze…

in the midst of all their sorrow…they found joy in other ways


For they loved their little daughter…that was plain for all to see

and they did the best they could to give her life some harmony.


I hope as the years go by…when they stop 

when they pause a while…

they will remember more of the joy than the suffering…

and when they think of her…

they’ll smile.


Perhaps one day their questions will be answered…

when they join their daughter…out of harm

when they hold her again heaven…

when they’re together…


in the angel’s’ arms.

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