An Occasion for the Writer: Everyday Magic, Day 637

Part 6 of “Wreckage, Wonder & Ways Through the Impossible: Writing Life’s Hard Stuff”

I write a lot of funeral poems as well as wedding, birthday, anniversary and other occasional poems. While some writers might shun such writing, I tend to lean toward the specifics that bring light to a rite of passage, pray and hope for the rhythm of the poem to carry me through, and then revise, revise, revise. When the loss is heavy, the writer can name that weight, and in doing so, hold a little or a lot of it or, at the least, support those holding the weight. Here is a poem I wrote for my beloved father-in-law’s funeral.

In the End, There Is Only Kindness

for Gene

When the floor slips and the time comes,

when interventions falter, there is only kindness,

a lantern to hold at journey’s end, then hand over

so someone else can lift the light enough

to illuminate where to step next, and how.


In this kindness, there are always stories:

Telling the checker who rang up his milk twice,

don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes.

His long wait among aging magazines at the VA

so a homeless vet could get his medication.

Gravel on our walkway because he didn’t want

us slipping when we brought home the new baby.

Jokes about being old and decrepit while he

cooked everyone dinner. How he power-rocked

the babies to sleep, his heart beating through theirs.

Christmas stockings and grandchildren to wake up early,

coins to collect for each one. Oxygen in one hand,

a cane in the other so he could see a grandchild

in orchestra or band, graduation or swim meet

even when his back and memory hurt.

The dishes or long drives, reaching for the check,

and taking the time to greet the stranger eating alone.

Only kindness matters in the circle of love

he made out of this world.


In the end, there is always the beginning,

a seamless turn from here to there

even if everything is different from

the irreplaceable loss shining and aching at once,

a kind of river running alongside our lives,

or weather reminding us that

we love, were loved by a man here only

for kindness, which is not just a kind of love

but the only love there is.



One thought on “An Occasion for the Writer: Everyday Magic, Day 637

  1. Dear Caryn ~

    This is a beautiful poem; a special tribute to someone who I can see was very special in your life. Thank you for bringing to light this man who was your father in-law. Gene is most certainly smiling into your heart…

    I sometimes officiate wedding ceremonies and baby blessings and have written a few poems for both kinds of occasions. It is wonderful to connect deeply to a couple or a new born, knowing that, in the end, their love is for the world at large.

    Thank you for your poetry…

    With blessings,

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