Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Should Have Been Here

You Should Have Been Here
October 2016

Our oldest son said “Yes”
To a beautiful bride on Saturday morning
Within the walls of the Lord’s House.
A perfect day by all accounts,
But you should have been here.

It was a lovely fall day filled with
Forced smiles and flooded eyes
When your baby girl watched the bride
Dance with her daddy,
And wished for only one thing:
That you could have been here.

The pictures of our family’s
New dynamic were too much
For our missionary to cherish
Some two thousand miles away.
His anguish yet another reminder
That you should have been here.

Your brother fought back tears
As he stood in photos,
Greeted guests, and offered
Advice to the bride and groom,
Attempting to fill the void we all feel
Because you should have been here.

Even as I contemplate
The beauty of that day,
I sense the patronizing platitudes
Regarding your watchful presence
And ever-attentive eye
As I acknowledge your spirit’s whisper
In my heart.
But still, you should have been here.

Just as you should be here in days ahead
To hear the cheers of happy homecomings,
The playing of Pomp and Circumstance,
The opening shot of the hunt,
The first cries of future grandchildren,
And the laughter of holidays
Spent within the walls of a home
We built for the sake of our kids
Who long for your loving embrace--
All of whom are left wishing for one thing:
That you could be here.

Momma Reb

Today There is Proof
March 4, 2015
Today there is proof
...that goodbyes are never easy but always inevitable.
...that “Family comes first. And if it doesn’t, it should.”
...that the veil is so thin, embraces from beyond
are no longer figurative but literal.
Today there is proof
...that money doesn’t buy happiness; it buys security.
But the security found in family relationships
far outweighs any monetary increase discovered in death.

Today there is proof
...that her devotion to family
was equally proportionate to
the number of photos on display in her home.
(With the exception of the seemingly requisite Christmas tree photo,
"you can never take too many pictures").

Today there is proof
...that grief is exhausting,
...tears build pressure and relieve anguish simultaneously,
And tender mercies mark the path of mourning;  
even those who fumble for the right words,
somehow offer peace.

Today there is proof
...that people are multi-dimensional:
those who are known for being tough
usually have an equal measure of tenderness.
...that only the good die young,
and the dynamic leave a hole more noticeable
than the weak and frail.
...that unselfishness is a way of life that many
mistake for misery.
...that thoughtfulness trumps
syrupy sweetness any day.

Today there is proof
...that our loving mother was welcomed Home.
...that after a life of giving, the bearer now rests.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Fall I Feel You

In the fall I feel you--
A hunter’s anticipation in the
Brisk breeze, tousling
My hair like you used to
On our long canyon drives;
In the warm and welcomed
Sunshine that follows a cool
Nature’s morn.
In the fall I hear you
Amid the rustling of leaves--
Those I scatter with
My determined gait,
Those still clinging
To barren trees,
Or those dancing
In between.
In the fall I see you.
All evidence confirming
My belief that you're still here--
Waiting patiently for
Me to look around and
Acknowledge your presence.
Claiming it won’t be long
Before I see you walking toward me
From the obscurity of the trees
That conceal you now,
But certainly not forever.
In the fall I long for you--
The bare, naked branches a
Reminder that winter awaits
Us all...
Nothing to fear
But rather,
Until spring awakens,
And we reunite
With those who’ve left us
With the whisperings of their love.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Refinery--by Chris Thompson

God has asked me to
Suffer the tragic,
Sacrifice the unthinkable,
Forgive the inexcusable,
Accomplish the impossible.

He has required me to
Dig deep,
Let go,
Face fear, and
Walk tall through smiling tears.

He has
Yoked me with others,
Beckoned angels in my behalf,
Rallied forces from the beyond the veil,
And empowered me to overcome.

He expects that I will
Trust His path,
Find joy in this journey,
Seek the unanswerable, and in turn,
Assuage others who petition without reply.

He trusts me to
Cling to truth,
Move forward with faith,
Exude His light,
Extend His love.

He knows my heart,
Tempers my will,
Succors my pain, and
Acknowledges my meager offering

All in an effort to
Refine one
Desperate to hear the words
“Oh, lovely daughter, thou hast endured it well.”

Thursday, September 8, 2016

You and Me

You and Me

You and Me--two broken vessels,
holding tight,
waiting for the glue to dry--a mosaic
of shattered beauty rising from despair.

You and Me--a team, equally yoked,
wading through the mire of grief and pain,
--tear-stained and weak,
finding strength in one another’s
empty arms.

You and Me--two hearts aching,
joined by an angel--
One willing to put himself aside to ensure
Our mortal joy
and eternal progression.

You and Me--unsuspecting beneficiaries
of love, carefully preserved and stored,
shared before winter’s bleakness
could consume our will to continue.

You and Me--two clasped hands,
cherishing memories of the past,
moving ahead to a faith-filled future,
learning to dance again.

You and Me--two unfinished chapters,
patiently shelved, now ready to discover
Our happily-ever-after
in the everyday pages of living.

You and Me--one heart, void of fear,
trusting this path of hope and healing,
--willing to live, laugh, and love again.

CC Thompson
June 2016

Blessed and Broken--a poem for two voices

Blessed and Broken
by CC Thompson
I am blessed to have known twenty-four years of unconditional love, laughter, tolerance, and mutual respect.

I am blessed that my children are old enough to have absorbed his goodness, heeded his counsel, followed his example and will forever remember his warm wisdom and playtime whiskers on their skin.

I am blessed to know our family is eternal.

I am blessed by the luxury of others knowing--or trying to know--our family’s pain as they watch from afar, praying to understand as we ride an erratic roller coaster of emotion through this second year of grief.  

I am blessed to have been given a second chance at love--a companionship, sanctioned from beyond the veil, encouraged for my benefit and that of a brother he loved more than life.

I am blessed to know that God is aware of me, directing me through a path no one would ever choose given life’s menu of adversity; and yet, somehow I am satisfied with my refining journey--one I know will lead to a grand, eternal vista, a view beheld through grief-granted eyes of gratitude.

But...I am blessed.
I  am heartbroken to think that those years of child-rearing, home-building, church-serving, and date-nighting are becoming memories on a page, fading with the infrequent sound of his name.

I am heartbroken they have to reminisce rather than experience--clinging to recollections like dreamers fighting to stay asleep, only to wake and find that the impressions they seek have slipped from their grasp.

I am heartbroken as I anticipate life’s milestones without him: graduations, weddings, reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, grandchildren and the many nicknames the best “Bapa” would’ve earned.

I am heartbroken when others aren’t afforded the same tender mercy in their private struggles; the sorrows of quiet hearts suffering in silence are often ignored by those looking in.

I am heartbroken we both had to lose so much to know the healing balm of happiness--a tear-filled gift few will ever have need to comprehend.

I am heartbroken to think that my test is not complete; my quota for tragedy may not have been met, as that which the Lord giveth can yet be taken away…

I am blessed and broken.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tender Mercy

August 6, 2016

One year ago today I woke up having had a nightmare that Marv was gone--the victim of a heart attack. Logic told me it was because of my writing group’s evening-before dinner discussion and the fact that our friend and first counselor in the bishopric had just had his “Widow Maker” valve replaced after a near brush with death weeks prior. He was still wearing a defibrillator vest under his suit at church, and we had just heard the story of him grabbing his wife on the operating table and telling her it was okay for her--no, that he wanted her--to marry again if he didn’t make it...

Of course these conversations contributed to my dark dream.

I drove home from my overnight retreat, eager to hold Marv and share my nightmare with him, completely unaware that I would bury him just two weeks later.

Obviously, this nightmare did not save my husband’s life, and I am not sure it was meant to.
We both determined that any emergency room doc would just smile at us if we went in claiming that Marv's only symptoms included his wife’s dream, her incessant feeling of pending doom, and the recent loss of her mother and several close friends. Oh, and some chronic back and leg pain....

While I could go on about wishing we had caught Marv’s blood clot before it was too late, I will be eternally grateful for that nightmare. Why? Because it was a blessing. For the next eight days, I would be especially attentive to my husband: praying for his well being every morning and asking the Lord what I could do to help lighten the burden he carried as a bishop, provider, husband, and father. Because of my “premonition,” we would spend an unusual amount of time together the week before his passing, and I would express my love for him in a direct, though somewhat paranoid, manner.  At one point, I remember straddling his lap, grabbing both sides of his face, and saying something like “If you ever feel a tinge of pain like Scott did, or you think you might be having a heart attack, please call an ambulance. Don’t wait. I don’t care what it costs, I don’t care if you’re wrong, just call.” There was also a time during those eight days when I told him, “I can’t lose you. You are all I have left. My parents are both gone and you are the only one who when you say you’re proud of means something. You know where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished, what I've overcome.”

To all of these expressions, Marv would hold me and assure me that everything would turn out the way it was supposed to. We aren’t always in control, but the Lord is he’d laugh. This even prompted one of our final philosophical discussions about the only three things we can count on this this life: death, change, and the Atonement. The rest is beyond our control. And besides, he was going to be alright. Aside from his usual aches and pains, he felt fine.

I know he thought I was being silly and just personalizing all of the experiences of our friends in recent months, and while I do wish I could have saved my husband’s life, I am grateful for the peace of mind those eight days brought me. I said what I needed to say. I expressed my love for him with bold, fierce, clear conviction. I used a softer everyday tone with him. I made him good food. We went out with friends. We visited neighbors. We ran errands. We paid bills. We stargazed. We even shoe shopped--something he would’ve normally avoided. We held hands more. Kissed more. Loved more...

I watched with pride as he helped a stranded motorist, counseled members of our congregation, advised our sons, acted with dignity on the golf course and the softball field, did several loads of laundry, and took Anna on a last-minute school shopping shoe run. Our great marriage was exceptional that last week all because of a little nightmare that gave me a sliver of insight about life’s fragile nature.

Over the past year as I have shared this nightmare and its ensuing results with others, they often nod knowingly and whisper something about me being prepared for Marv’s sudden passing, and I have to stop myself from screaming, “No!”  

While these premonitions (along with the number of funerals we’d attended) helped me with the logistics of burial and forced me to appreciate death’s lack of discrimination, they in no way prepared me for the events that took place on August 14th. Nothing can prepare a loved one for that kind of shock and tragedy. Nothing can prepare you for living the rest of your life without someone who is part of your forever soul.  

Even though it seems counterintuitive, what that nightmare did for me was give me assurance and peace. My husband died knowing my love for him. He died knowing what he meant to me. He died knowing that I wasn’t ready for him to leave. He died an adored husband, father, bishop, athlete, friend, and good Samaritan. And, because I was able to express all of that to him before his life ended, I can honestly say I have no regrets about our relationship and how we treated one another.

Now, that’s not to say that given the chance, I wouldn’t go back and drag Marv’s butt to the doctor’s office and miraculously mention the symptoms of a DVT or a bi-lateral pulmonary embolism, even though he didn’t have pronounced symptoms at the time. But, that is obviously not an option afforded me...So instead, I will hang on to my writing retreat nightmare--a nightmare that I will forever consider a tender mercy.  A tender mercy that has helped me move forward without guilt, without regret, without second guessing, and without a doubt that Marv still knows my love for him.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Day After

August 15, 2015

I woke up this morning without you—
A shell of the woman I was just hours ago.
Your keys and wallet on the table
Tell my mind you are still here,
But my heavy heart and hollow limbs
Say otherwise.

I want to call out to you with hope--
Hope you will answer--
But I fear the blaring silence and
Steady ticking of the clock that
Replace your anticipated reply.
And yet…
I feel your tender touch when my
Hungry arms reach for yours,
Craving the comfort of a full embrace.

I woke up this morning without you.
And though I’m not ready,
I sense your “This-is-The-Plan” whisper in my heart,
Bringing with it an unwelcomed peace--
A peace that’s forcing me to accept that
While my first day without you
Was filled with emptiness
And fraught with tears,
It may not compare to the pain that lies ahead.

So forgive me in the upcoming days
When I pretend you are still here
By opening drawers, caressing pillows, and
Immersing myself in your shirts
Still hanging in the closet.

It will be my way of reminding myself
That though our dance was interrupted too soon,
The music still plays;
Though you have been called to watch from afar,
I have been asked to dance alone.

Christine C. Thompson