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My father-in-law passed away last month, and he had a good passing. He was surrounded by family and love in the days before he died in his sleep. I’m sad for the loss of him but also reminded how every loss inspires us to live fully, to make this most of our short time on earth. I thought I’d post this poem I wrote years ago, in honor of Edmund Salas.

Apparently, I think about this a lot. I just made the connection that my forthcoming picture book We Belong has this after a spread about being happy or being sad:

Sometimes we’d like to make sadness extinct,
but teardrops and smiles are joined–
they are linked.

Each feeling’s a gift
that helps us connect
to the world,
to our family,
to the friends we collect.

– © Laura Purdie Salas, from We Belong (Lerner/Carolrhoda, 2022)

Well, for loads of wonderful poetry (probably more upbeat than my own poem!), don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with Michelle Kogan, whose artwork is always inspiring.


14 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this poem Laura! I really enjoyed the waterfall and ending. Your imagery here really invokes the feelings on these things from summer to rivers.

  2. Thanks for both of your perceptive and sensitive poems Laura. Your poem from your forthcoming book, “We Belong” is lovely and has a wonderful rhythm to it, and I like the circular feeling of connectedness it offers too! Congrats on this new book, I’m looking forward to hearing more about it! Thank you also for your kind words.

  3. How beautiful. My father in law passed here in my home surrounded by family and as sad as it was and despite the grieving my husband has endured, it was a beautiful passing and I’m honored to have been close with the family at this time. What gorgeous words in honor of a special person. Poets are essential…and this post proves that. Thank you so much for sharing such a tender poem from such a tender time.

  4. I love these thoughts, Laura. Yes, we need all the seasons of life. I am reminded of the last words of a man in our congregation… he reportedly looked up and said, “oh… WOW!” I’m guessing his was a good passing also. We never know what surprises are around the corner. Thanks for your insights.

  5. Too much upbeat is bad for the soul, Laura. Just ask…me. This “Without” is classic LPS, the personification, the imagery, the wise truths. Thank you!

  6. Laura, I have followed your family news and once again send my sincere condolences to you and your family. I think many would like sadness to be extinct. You wrote your poems with tender touches and deep feeling for life. Thank you for sharing the reality of life’s movments in poetic formats. Have a great weekend.

  7. Thank you for the gift of connection in both of your poems especially the link between sorrow and celebration, Laura. Hugs to you. 🙂

  8. Having recently suffered the loss of my mother-in-law, I am finding your poem resonating strongly with me, Laura.
    Our world needs its beginnings and endings. Change is a constant, and we do well to accept it. I enjoyed the recurring pattern of your first poem and the salient examples you gifted us. I also found myself dwelling on the opening lines of your second poem, ‘Sometimes we’d like to make sadness extinct, but teardrops and smiles are joined–they are linked.’ Sometimes our most striking words come from events that stir up strong emotions. My condolences to you and your family at this time.

  9. Laura, this post is that balance, that contrast, of joy and sorrow. Hope and loss. Hope IN loss. The world needs beautiful people like you.

  10. Laura, I just finished rereading Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Both of your poems today would pair so beautifully with the book and prompt some wonderful conversation for kids.

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