I Saw You As You Left This World

Dad, I was going to text you this morning something,

something I wanted to tell you. But then I remembered

you’re not here any longer, and my great sadness stirred.

Its two months today that we saw your face through our

phones and you were all thumbs up we’re gonna give this

intubation a go and not an hour later my phone rang and

your youngest son told me in heaves Dad’s gone, John.

Something in me broke that moment, and Life’s wild wind

I’ve always loved is now bitter cold and I can’t get warm.

To try and get a better signal we drove across the highway

to a Love’s travel stop parking lot and there, walking out

of the front door was you—same hat, same denim shirt,

same suspenders holding up same baggy jeans, and same

large hands with veins visible from a distance. I said Look,

and we both couldn’t find our breath. I grabbed my phone

and snapped a picture of you walking in front of the Chester’s

Chicken sign and the ice box where bags that day were $2.49.

That wasn’t what I was going to tell you this morning but I

hadn’t mentioned that I saw you as you left this world, saw

you at Love’s in Clayton, New Mexico, but you didn’t see me.

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  1. Sarah Rowell on April 23, 2021 at 7:45 am

    So beautiful

  2. Ben Nye on April 23, 2021 at 7:59 am

    I like the idea of Clayton being the place us Euro-Americans get directed before the Roll is Called Up Yonder. This is really moving, John

  3. Margo on April 23, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I have tears in my eyes. You are a gifted writer and I pray in thanksgiving for the gift of your dad. You are in my prayers. Thank you for writing during this time of grieving.

  4. Robin Mutschelknaus on April 23, 2021 at 8:14 am

    What a beautiful gift to see your dad in the midst of such fresh grief. And I do believe he “saw” you. He didn’t need to look at you to know you were there. ?

  5. Robin Mutschelknaus on April 23, 2021 at 8:17 am

    What a beautiful gift, to see your dad in the midst of such fresh grief. ?. I believe he saw you also; he didn’t need to look with his eyes to know you were there. ❤️.

  6. Kay Hanevik on April 23, 2021 at 8:23 am

    John my heart cries out for your peace. I won’t tell you how to find it because you already know. Give yourself the gift of time. Two months doesn’t begin to measure up to the 40 or so years before the heartbreak. What I will say is this. You are loved and in time love conquers all pain . WHEN you are healed you WILL move on. You will not forget but peace will overshadow the pain and what is left will become beautiful reminders of the precious memories that you can cherish. You are not defeated just badly bruised.

  7. Linda Roberts-Baca on April 23, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Oh, yes he does see you, John. I’m sure of it.

    • nancymariedavis on May 3, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      It is so easy to miss people after they are gone.
      For when they are here I could not fathom how it would be without them.
      And they do appear. In dreams, in memories, in myself.
      I cry about the beauty and about the regrets and heartache of this quickly passing life.
      I know the clothes, the boots, the ways, the smile, the twinkling in the eyes in the blink. There is no choice but to go. And ‘I love you’ are the words.

  8. Duncan Hilton on April 23, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Stunning and beautiful, John!

  9. Marcia on April 23, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Keep moving through it, John. After losing her husband during 9-11 a grieving wife kept her husband’s phone on so that she could call the number to hear her husband’s voice on his voicemail. Write the text, anyway. Wallow in the memories.

  10. alice scott-ferguson on April 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Powerful pleas and prayers from the deepest places.Take as long as you need…it will be forever; only the dissonance will diminish.

  11. Jeannie Prinsen on April 23, 2021 at 9:16 am

    I don’t even know what to say, this is so beautiful and heartbreaking.

  12. Diana Trautwein on April 23, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Oh, I think he did, John. I really do.

    Thank you.

  13. Sallie on April 23, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Of course you saw him— you are one who sees. And you show us. Thank you.

    Ken and I wept.

  14. Abby on April 23, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Mwen we ou. Mwen sanje ou. I see you. I remember/know/value you. (En Kreyol).

  15. Angela Garrett on April 24, 2021 at 12:12 am

    Really nice John! We will never forget our sweet parents.

  16. Marilyn Yocum on April 24, 2021 at 1:50 pm


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