in athens,
the town i’ve visited
for bookstores and ball games
and meals and movies,
i sat and walked and
stood and prayed
in a hospital, watching
life’s conclusion and introduction,
staring as lives
enter and exit.

i imagined sitting on a
front porch with the two
of them together.
my father-in-law,
in a chair beside me,
grinning and laughing,
telling stories again
and eating food again.
and my granddaughter,
her skin soft and tender,
her life knowing none of the
many stories of pain we could
tell her.
if this image was reality,
i’d ask daddy-o to sing to his
great granddaughter millie.

but it isn’t and he can’t.
he left us, after his struggle to
breathe ended five days
before she arrived in
the same town,
the same hospital,
the same world,
the same family.

a week of goodbye
and hello.
an experience of departure
and arrival.
a story of ending
and beginning.
a reminder of final words
and first glance.

and now, in this place of
time and space,
new stories and old stories
begin their merging.
staring at gentle eyes,
hearing a baby breathing,
feeling a heart beating,
i think of yesterdays
and tomorrows,
cherishing today,
and choosing,
at least for now,
to cradle each now,
refusing to ignore
the wonder among us all.

From the book embracing now: pain, joy, healing, living.