Not Mine to Keep | A Poem of Love and Loss

Family Photo
Family Photo

For my girls:

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh is this child
this woman
who now walks away from me

Always she is walking away…always, she is going

I wish she had come with a note,
like a present with a ribbon tied ’round her wrist
and a card attached
with the words:

“Just passing through.
I will come to you,
into your body, into your home,
into your wallet, your schedule, your dreams
and most of all
into your heart.
But I will not stay.
I’m just passing through.”

She passes through
and in her wake, creates a wind
sometimes a soft spring breeze
that rustles free the seeds of tomorrow
sometimes a tempest that picks up, moves and
rearranges the scenery
into something new, unrecognizable

There is no place through which she passes that goes
untouched, unchanged, unaltered
She goes, but leaves her mark
on my body, my home, my wallet,
my schedule, my dreams
and most of all
my heart

Her name is written there upon it,
her impression deep,
for she passes through with heavy footprints and
sticky hands that leave fingerprints on the walls of my soul

Family Photo
Family Photo

Even after she lets go, she holds my heart
because once upon a time,
when she needed it most, I gave it to her
She meant no harm, has done nothing wrong
Willingly, I gave
and would give again
and again

How is it that losing weighs more than gaining?

Yet what mother would not endure the heavy weight
that presses down,
the agony that drives out breath and blood and life
so that her child might breathe
might live
might walk
and run
and fly?

She came
Like a river, she came
already in motion
moving always toward the open sea
And I, the land,
but not untouched

She has left her mark

I will watch her go
and upon my body,
once again,
feel the force of her rushing out
pulling away

I will stay
and dream of gentle winds
and sun-speckled, trickling streams
where she once set her feet upon the rocks

Family Photo
Family Photo

I will stay
squinting into the golden glare of a setting sun
which for her is still rising
and let the sands of the dry riverbed run through my fingers
and watch the shimmering dust
as it’s caught up in the late summer breeze
and borne gently away
toward the hazy horizon

She carries me with her
for I am in her bones

I remember when my heart beat for her
when my lungs breathed for her
while the Weaver knit
two tiny strands
stitch after stitch
into soft, pink toes and fingers
a heart and lungs of her own

Now my heart goes with her
vulnerable to a life that is not mine to keep

And this pain
this loss
This is
the hollow
of losing

© Nichole Liza Q.

Written in response to Writing 101 | Third Time’s the Charm – a series on loss.

17 thoughts on “Not Mine to Keep | A Poem of Love and Loss

Add yours

  1. You expressed so beautifully what many of us parents have felt, Nichole.
    Our daughter Nicole is a petite person and for years we called her our tiny dancer. Airy and light on her feet when dancing ballet, she sounded like a 200 lb. gorilla stomping when she ran on our wooden stairs. The footprints she left on our hearts were even heavier…

  2. Hey Nicole,
    I just read your poem and it is poignant and beautiful. I was just so blown away by the visual images. I mean like it was truly incredible and so moving to my soul!! When a woman has children, it is difficult to put into words the feelings, hopes, dreams, and loss however YOU just did!!
    Thanks so much!

  3. My dearest friend,
    So thankful I did not read this yesterday…completely expresses all that is going on now, so hard, yet necessary, as they prepare to walk their own journeys. But knowing our God is still over it all, waiting for us to come to Him with our hurts, joys, concerns…His plan is for our good and theirs…together as a family. Thanks for the gift YOU, for yesterday God used you as a beautiful gift to me through your listening, encouragement, and love. Your writing is a beautiful gift ~ ~ ~ !

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