By Valerie Nielson Williams

I walked into the room where you were;
You looked so peaceful,
resting there.
So natural, like you’d looked many times
over the two decades I’d watched you sleep.

I leaned over and kissed your lips
still warm,
But not reciprocating now.
I smoothed your snow-white hair
with my hand.
By small measure my heart was tearing apart
as I searched desperately
for a miracle.

But you were too silent. Too still.
I knew you were gone.
They told me as much.
And deep, life-giving breaths filled your lungs
no more.

I took your hand in mine, held it,
and felt your life-warmth still lingering.
I wept.
I nestled your warm hand to my face
and then to my breast
as I fought to stop the unstoppable.

Minutes flew like seconds.
I was loathly sentient
of the remaining evidence of life slowly
Draining from your hands;
Your life-warmth giving way to Death’s icy grip.

Strong hands that had crafted and built
So many memorials,
Had cradled so many babies

Now limp and leaden as I held them
in my own.

Gentle hands that would never again caress my face
As they had in life;
Nor gently feather-touch
to the small of my back
As they had nearly every night before.

Later, making arrangements, I stroked your
embalmed hands;
Now bitter-cold, stiff,
And hot, salty tears could neither warm them
Nor rouse you from your horrid slumber.

Before I locked you away
I placed tokens of our years together
into your clay-like hands.

Bring them to me,

and again,
cradle my face;
stroke my back;
touch my heart.


About Valerie Nielson Williams

Valerie inherited her love of writing form her father, who could write a poem on the spur of the moment for a sacrament meeting talk. Valerie holds a BS in secondary education and a BA in English with a theater minor from Indiana University South Bend. Her hobbies include family history, gardening, traveling and camping. She lives in Mishawaka, Indiana with her two sons, Philip and Christopher. She was widowed in 2002 when her sweetheart, Thomas Dean Williams, died unexpectedly.

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