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I wish it was not yours to do…

November 16, 2011

A child’s death at any age leaves a gaping hole.  Before birth or after.  When your child is young or old. Their death separates you from all that is living.  A painful gap between the world that was taken from you, and the flat, grey world in which you find yourself. We see your pain, but we don’t know what to do with it.  It is palpable.  We want to acknowledge your loss, and maybe even apologize for the relief we feel every time we look at our own child, knowing that our heart is still whole, while yours is not.  So we walk with you, not because we know exactly how you feel, but because we don’t want you to be alone.  We find a way, however awkward, to say we’re sorry that this is now your job…

How You Rise Each Day

I wish
It were not
Yours to do.

But it is
Your pain,
And you have wrestled it
To the ground,
Rising again
And again
Until you found its heart
And forced it to join you
In celebration of him,
Your son,
John Michael.

It is a mystery to me
How you rise each day
To be reminded
That you are,
And he is not.

Perhaps because you were
His beginning,
And witness to his brief present,
Now you must become his future.
Walking where he cannot,
Breathing life into each
Precious dream
Until his footprints surround us
With all he would have been
Had he not gone so soon.

I wish
It was not
Yours to do.

But it is your grief,
And you have donned its
Black cloak of mourning
With courage,
Determined to dance again
In celebration of him,
Your son,
John Michael.




And dance you will.
At times halting,
Then with confidence
And joy,
Filling the world again
With color,
As you dance not your dance,
But his,
Your son,
John Michael.

© Paulann Condray Canty, 2011 


“Death comes to our dances, and if we dance at all, it must be in her forbidding presence.  But the wondrous conclusion is that we who must die, must dance, and that both are our destiny, and neither dying nor dancing is missing from the whole of life.”                                                                                                                 —-Calvin Miller

Thank you, Skip and Marsha, for living your journey of turning mourning into dancing before us.  You give us hope that having come through the dark night, we too can return to the dance.  Thank you for not hiding your pain from us.  Thank you for letting us join you in celebrating your son’s life.

In Memory of

John Michael Gore
July 27, 1984 – October 11, 2009

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Swardnogirl permalink
    November 17, 2011 5:57 am

    Thanks for these words.

  2. December 11, 2011 3:49 pm

    I leave the islands soon to return back to Tulsa to visit friends and family and to give my regrets to a family who lost their daughter in a car accident. I cannot imagine their grief…such a beautiful girl and being 21, her life was just beginning… just speaking to her father on the phone I can’t get out more than a few words before my voice cracks. I am afforded such an amazing life… this girl, half my age, dead…it’s a tragedy and my heart bleeds for her family.

    Her father has reached out to me several times, knowing I’m always steadfast and solid in friendship, yet this visit is the only regrettable thing I’m not looking forward to, yet the right thing is to help them bear the brunt of this especially in light of the fact the Christmas, her smiling face will not be at the dinner table.

    Appreciate the words in your blog…I’ve read quite a bit… Have a beautiful Christmas…


    • December 11, 2011 6:12 pm

      It’s hard to know what being there for someone even looks like when their loss is so tragic and overwhelming. What a powerful gift for you and your friend that he knows you are steadfast and solid. You may think you have little to offer with a few words and cracking voice, but those may be the very things that allows your friend to reach out to you. Sometimes our inability to say the “perfect” thing and our willingness to be present anyway is what conveys that we care, and that we know there are no “answers”.

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas in the midst of these painful circumstances as you offer the gift of presence to your friend and his family. My thoughts are with you as you travel to Tulsa. I grew up there and it will always be a special place for me.


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