Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poem - Questions With No Answers

1954 - Patrick far left, me in front

When I was four years old, I was the youngest of five siblings.  When I was four years old, my 10 year old brother died.  When I was four years old, my mother gave birth to my baby brother, Norbert.  Once he was born, I was no longer the youngest of five.  A lot happened when I was four and I don’t remember any of it, at least not consciously. 
My older brother’s name was Patrick and from stories and pictures, I have formed a firm impression of a sweet, sensitive boy who was cursed with ulcerative colitis and died from complications of a disease that would not have killed him in 2010.  I wish I had a clearer sense of his presence.  After he died, my folks were grieving, but had to keep on living and providing for their four, soon to be five, children.  There wasn’t much talk of Pat after that – it must have been too painful - but as a result, many unanswered questions have remained.   My parents passed away several years ago so further illumination is no longer possible.  What went through my four year old mind after something that tragic occurred?  I’ll never know for sure.

Southern Indiana,
A death occurred,
A young boy,
So sad,
So dear,

Why did he die?
Where did he go?
When will we see him again?

He’s gone to heaven,
He’s in a better place,

But where is that place?
When will we see him again?

Questions with no answers,
Answers that explain nothing
To children
Who grieve too,
Who need more than

He’s gone to heaven,

It’s scary to have someone disappear,
There one day gone the next,

A boy with such a winning smile,
Such a warm heart,

Why did he die?
Where did he go?
When will we see him again?

Parents too weary,
Too sad to answer,
More dinners to cook,
Baths to give,
Sheets to wash,
Babies to have,

Life goes on, and on, and on,
But the sadness gets buried
With the long ago loss,
And surfaces from time to time,

Why did he die?
Where did he go?
When will we see him again?

Children need answers,
Need to know the truth,
Need to be heard


  1. Rita: This is a whole new level of poetry for you. It is excellent. I like all your poems, but this one is special. Very special. Thank you so much for it.

  2. Thank you very much for this. In spite of the heartfelt and poignant subject, I must say that I truly cherish this photo, especially the loving way that the oldest girl is looking at the youngest....


  3. Thank you Libby and Judy. It was hard to write in some ways and easy in others. I was trying to capture the feeling a child would have in the midst of tragedy. I know our folks did the best they could and were fabulous parents in so many ways. This was just too big and beyond what anyone was emotionally equipped to handle at that time.
    Judy, I did notice the look and it made me feel very happy thinking about you looking at me with such tenderness. Love to you both.