This poem was written for my daughter, Piper, before she had a baby brother:

 

Now I Lay You Down to Sleep

If I die before you wake,

Know I loved you best.

Before you were even dreamed of

Or grew a heart, lungs, lips

I loved you best.

There were never two eyes as beautiful,

Never a laugh so full of life,

Never a cry as sharp as a knife,

Until you.

I would hover and watch you sleep

If footsteps on squeaky floorboards

Didn’t raise your blond head.

 

If I die before you wake,

I will miss your small hands

Tugging gently at my hair,

Always reaching, reassuring yourself

That I was there.

When you were born,

I didn’t see them pull your pink body out

On the other side of the blue curtain,

And in my drugged state,

My arms couldn’t hold you.

I could only stare at the sterile drop ceiling and bright overhead lights

And listen to the wonderful strength

Of your first screams.

“You’re beautiful” played on the radio.

 

If I die before you wake,

It’s not because I wanted to.

I wanted to be there

When you woke up,

But life had other ideas.

I wanted you to wake up and find me,

In my pink armchair,

Scribbling in my notebook,

Drinking my coffee,

My lap waiting for you to jump into it,

My neck waiting for your arms to encircle it.

 

If I die before you wake,

Know that if you fight with your father,

It’s only because

You’re just like him –

Neither one of you know when to give up,

So let him have the last word now and then.

 

If I die before you wake,

Know that I could never quite get behind the idea

Of god or heaven,

But my last wish

Was to hold you close again.

 

If I die before you wake,

Know I loved you best.

 

This one for Jack (the original is here):

In the Spring of my 34th Winter (or My Jack)

You were born on a Tuesday in January,

And right on schedule.

Different than your sister from the start.

She was a Thursday in October

And 10 days early.

At your first cry,

The swelling of my heart

Pushed the tears out and down my cheeks.

After weeks and months

Of worry,

Relief washed over me

In warm waves.

My Jack.

My rainbow.

My beautiful sunshine baby.

 

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4 thoughts on “For My Children

  1. If I Die Before I Wakeis precious. There is nothing sweeter than being a mother and little children make life worth living. There is always that worry of something happening to separate you. I guess the important thing is to be ready to meet your maker who gave you such previous children

    Like

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