©2019 Susan Noyes Anderson
Image by Oliver Rossi
How unexpected life can be.
Your childhood flew by happily,
a blessed existence from the start
with you, our youngest work of art.
When rain swept in and turned to hail,
it seemed at first we would prevail.
We always did; we always had.
We soldiered on when things got bad.
I watched it all. You gave enough.
I followed you into the rough
and fought to find a piece of smooth.
Your stout heart kept us on the move.
We pushed along a stormy road
as burdens grew into a load,
a load you could not fully share,
a killing load you strove to bear.
You bore that weight for years and years,
exploring treatments, spurning fears.
The illness ravaged, and the “cures”
tormented. So much to endure.
In time you left us, our grave loss.
I love your freedom, loathe the cost.
I do draw comfort from you, son,
remembering each battle won.
But there are days I wade through tears,
when all my comfort disappears,
submerged in mournful memories,
low blows that drove you to your knees.
Where one door closed, another slammed;
so many windows locked or jammed.
Yet from each opening, each hope,
you gathered shreds of strength to cope.
You did see light. You did feel air.
Each time, you reached beyond despair
and clung to every trace of peace
as, for a while, the trial would ease.
But oh, the mighty trees that fell,
the poisoned waters in the well
(water you thought was safe to drink).
Sometimes it drove you to the brink.
Relentless was the road you trod.
It made you doubt yourself and God.
But somehow you bound up your soul
and focused on a worthy goal.
You did have flaws, as do we all.
Mistakes were made, but you stood tall,
facing afflictions few men see
with courage, grit, and dignity.
I trust the Lord you were well-served,
for this pain never was deserved.
You fought for joy through years of strife,
embodied valor in your life.
You were a healer, Todd, at heart.
Your plan was to pursue that art,
to love and raise a family,
to be the best man you could be.
You did enough. You did your best.
I wish I could have done the rest.
I tried so hard to find a way
to mend your wounds, to help you stay.
Alas, that gift surpassed my role.
The Lord alone could make you whole.
But I will know His saving grace
the day I see it in your face––
alight with hope, alive with joy,
the victory won––my own, brave boy.
There is perhaps nothing more painful than witnessing a child’s suffering and death. This poem is my attempt to navigate some of that grief and bring myself a feeling of hope. It worked for me, and I hope you find some comfort, too. Here is another poem that might resonate with you, Holding Hearts.