Beneath the Surface – A Poem

Beneath the surface, the pain waits

For the waves of movement to stop
For your flurry of activity to slow
For the churning waters of your busy life to settle
The life you were so proud of recreating from the ashes

Beneath the surface, the pain waits
For the quiet times,
The peaceful times
When life is lovely and your mind is still
And you pause to think and remember

Beneath the surface, the pain waits
For the trigger
The notes of a song
The sight of a place you used to go together
A glimpse of a photo
The burst of a memory that shoots like a star into your mind

And the lovely world you created

And those peaceful times when you think perhaps you’ve made it through the storm
Are revealed to be the lie that they are

And the pain invades and overwhelms
So you pull out the tissues and grit your teeth and succumb to it for a little while

He’s never coming back
He’s never coming back

And you pick up the pieces and start again

You live
You laugh
You love
You embrace the day
Without him

The fog lifts and life goes on

But you know that beneath the surface,
the pain waits

And in the midst of all you’ve gained
You’ll be reminded of all you’ve lost

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at


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