Image is of the author's son sitting on the ground in front of a shrubby background, in a black teeshirt and jeans. He's happier than he's ever been. She's learning to say hello to this son as she says goodbye to the daughter she thought she had but is realizing that she's always had this son she just didn't know it.

Goodbye, or Is It Hello? A Poem.

grief parent support transition Apr 15, 2021

You left -
In the middle of the night, while I was sleeping.
Before I had a chance to realize you were gone,
or to say goodbye, or to tell you to be careful,
as I had a thousand times before –
or, that I loved you.



I loved you -
From the time I first heard your heart beat;
when I first saw your sweet smile;
when I first heard your vibrant laugh.


photo credit: K-Mart Portrait Studios


I loved you –
Through sleepless nights, when you would cry,
then I would cry, and eventually, the two of us would sleep;
your head tucked next to my heart.



I loved you –
When you took a dare and kissed that boy on the playground;
when you first stood on a stage and shared your heart with a theater full of people;
when you first learned that food was the enemy
and your life would hinge on a needle you had to plunge deep into your leg.



I loved you –
Over plates of mac and cheese and through sappy movies that made us roll our eyes.
When you pushed my buttons and tested your limits;
pushing me further and further away;
Yet my love for you knew no bounds.



I loved you –
When you hated yourself, and you hated me,
and you weren’t sure which direction your life was headed,
but you knew that your dreams were bigger than my plans.
Your life was going to matter.



I loved you –
Right up until the moment that you disappeared;
like a star that had lost its shine.
Gone - forever.



And yet…

Here you are –
Right in front of me;
A brave young man, full of hopes and dreams;
ready to stand up for what you deem right and just,
and say to the world –


photo credit: Martin at Pine Fox Photo 


I am not who you tell me I should be;
because I do not fit into your perfect little mold -
I am the person I have fought to become;
a better version of myself,
because I am no longer afraid to let my light shine.


photo credit: Leo Richardson


I love you –
For teaching me that goodbyes are not forever,
and that sometimes, the very things we are searching for
are right before our eyes,
if we only open them wide enough to see.


photo credit: Martin at Pine Fox Photo


I love you –
With your short hair and dapper new glasses;
as you define a new style for yourself,
and determine what length shorts you will wear
while discussing the merits of pockets in men’s jeans.


photo credit: Martin at Pine Fox Photo


I love you –
For showing me that strength is sometimes fragile;
and that we can pack away the memories of the past,
but who we are is fundamentally the same -
Identity transcends physical boundaries.


photo credit: Leo Richardson


I love you -
For reminding me that love is stronger than grief
and that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with
a plate of mac and cheese and a marathon of sappy movies. 
And maybe hot chocolate.


photo credit: Martin at Pine Fox Photo


I love you –
For stepping outside of yourself when it wasn’t comfortable;
for challenging the status quo of today,
while working towards a bright and shining future.
For letting me tell you to be careful,
a thousand more times.
Because I love you.


photo credit: Leo Richardson


copyright 2018 Beth Richardson



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