Sunday, September 20, 2009


Too much cancer: I'm witnessing a strength and character demanded of too many of my friends and family these days and it leaves me bewildered and astonished.
I wrote a poem about astonishment about three years ago, just after I lost my friend Willa to lung cancer and well before my heart got cracked wide open--that journey I am still on, still unsure about, still pushing forward, one foot in front of the other.
This poem is actually one of my very favorites of all I have written: I often think of my daughter Jessica whenever I read it, and yesterday I read it again thinking of Renee, a friend to many of us on the blogs, who been given a very hard and very sad burden to carry.


If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:
Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.
If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.
If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.
Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.
If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.
Even in tough times, let's count our blessings, dear friends. And thank you once again for being one my special blessings. Thank you big time.


  1. Lovely, and I do agree. Grief has its own agenda, though, and lnot be turned away. I think first the sorrow, then the blessing-counting.

  2. Thanks for this, especially today, dear KJ.


  3. I loved this when I read it before but today I love it more.

    It's really beautiful, just like your heart.


  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you-
    for your words, your magic, and your grace...
    For all that you are, and all that you continue to become.

    Kj- you astonish me.



  5. sonia, why thank you!

    cs, oh, how grief takes its own path and its own time. i think you are right: first the sorrow, then the blessing. xo

    dear angela, you are so sweet. i am so glad to know you, angela!

    awwwwh, lo. :)

    caroline, thank you very much.

    j, well, you've just made my day! thank you so much!

  6. we all love YOU and cherish YOU for your words and YOUR love you show us all. thanks for this kj, and let's all think of renee and her family again today.

  7. Thank you for your comment. I feel it too.

  8. Count our blessings indeed. Lovely piece kj. I am incredibly lucky to have a friend such as you.

  9. very very beautiful! hopefully we just slip right into another world :)

  10. Absolutely beautiful and spot on!

    thank you for caring and sharing.

    best wishes always
    Ribbon x

  11. Lovely KJ and true all through - like you.

  12. eloh, thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment.

    jeez soulbrush, you make me sound like a saint or something....which we all know i'm not :)

    awww, angela. tsup!

    awww, baino, this comment of yours is my treasure of the day. thank you. you know i feel the same love and luck in return.

    val, i LOVE LOVE LOVE the way you see things. but it's NOT fair i can't sit across from you while i listen. :)

    hello ribbon, i missed you. :)

    mim, how are you doing, ms. toothy? i hope today was better and tomorrow is fine. xo

  13. Beautiful poem and true and worth remembering.xoxo

  14. I am really touched, KJ. You have a gift to comfort people. Thank you very much!

  15. this is so beautiful and helps me remember to appreciate the beauty that is around me every day.

  16. Very pretty. Funny how we tend to live life as if there is no end, or that end is ever so far off that surely we will have all the time in the world to say every word of love we intended to...

    One day, a long time ago, I woke up and realized the need to live as if I'm dying, for we all are...we just don't know when.

    The present is a gift. Embrace it.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. So sorry, my little trigger happy finger clicked twice and blogger actually was quick in posting I deleted the repeat. Shall try to be more patient...teehee....

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