grief journey

If You Were Here

If you were here this morning,
You would have urged me out of bed

“C’mon it’s a beautiful day!” you’d say
And convince me to eat breakfast on the deck

When we were finished, you’d say,
“Let’s get this pool open – you love to swim. It won’t take long…”

And we’d work together, side by side…

You with your massive strength,
Lifting huge leaf nets full of leaves out of the dark, murky water

Me accomplishing half as much,
But enjoying the task
As I watched your muscles flex
And listened to your encouraging talk

And we’d stop for lunch
And we’d chat about our progress
And we’d enjoy having another Saturday to spend together
And we’d make our plans for Saturdays to come

(Never dreaming we wouldn’t have them)

And the storms would begin – like they did today

And you’d say,
“That was a good start, honey. It won’t be long until you’re swimming.
Now let’s go lie in bed and listen to the storm.”

And we’d lie quietly in each other’s arms
And watch the curtains flutter in the breeze

As the thunder boomed
And the lightning lit up the sky
Outside our bedroom window.

If you were here, I’d feel contentment
If you were here, I’d feel loved
If you were here, I’d feel secure in your arms

And know that sun or storm, we had each other

But you aren’t here

And I ate breakfast alone on the deck
And the pool is still dark and murky
And our plans for the future won’t happen

And I’m alone in this gloomy house,
Writing these words in the dark

While the thunder booms
And the lightning strikes
Outside my office window

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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