Laugh out loud

Oh my children, my children,
my sweet, sweet children
how I love you all so very much!
Come to me again that I may
hold you in my arms,
clasp you to my breast,
and kiss your eyes one last time.

My hearts—heed me:
cry only in joy,
weep only for others
and promise me that you will laugh out loud
whenever you think of me hence.
I know that you will not forget me—
but I go hoping that someday
you just might understand me.

This is the second of two poems I call my “Epitaph Duet.” The first was My epitaph. The idea is that both stand as separate poems but that together they form a vague third.

But the issue with such serious weighty things as the last words you get to say is that it is hard to deal with the thought of how much you will hurt—if only for a little while—the loved ones you leave behind. As I wrote this poem, I realized that is why so many epitaphs are humorous: it is a great way to escape the awful finality of the idea you are facing.

Thank you so much for reading Laugh out loud. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


2013.4.18 Edit:

Thank you for several people asking if there is any significance to my writing an epitaph. As far as I know, no, I am well and will, I hope, remain a burden on the poetry writing community for years yet to come. Dealing with the subject of a personal epitaph was an intellectual and emotional exercise only.

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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8 responses to “Laugh out loud

  1. Pingback: Laugh Out Loud | the Book of Pain

  2. >I know that you will not forget me,
    >But I go with the hope that someday
    >You will also understand me.

    Interesting thoughts. The older I get, the more I understand my own parents, the decisions they made, the sacrifices … it’s usually not until we have our own children we realize these things.

    A nice poem.

  3. this is lovely. are you alright?

    • Thank you for asking, and I should have been far clearer in my comments. No, as far as I know, I will be a burden on the poetry writing community for many years yet to come. These poems were pure intellectual and emotional exercises not driven by any foreknowledge of impending doom. Or, at least, I hope not!

  4. Yesssss …This was a gift to read. I appreciate how these words came to the white that beckons the writer, and taunts the writer (at times) … These words were right, they flowed … Don’t know if they came quickly, or if you had to work them, tweak them, but they are good, and it flows … and your invitation to other writers to try this is appreciated, one that I will try … Oh, one more piece. This word “intimacy” in our society is a wild card … Ideally, folks know that intimacy covers several realms … such as the relationships one has with their children … I sensed a deep, sacred, redemptive intimacy here, between you and your children. I can imagine that it stirred up something profound. Peace, T

    • Wilder Man, (gosh I love that name!) if only I could write quickly and effortlessly, like Shostakovich writing a pen! Every one of my poems tends to be the result of a thousand little re-writes. I don’t think I am a very good poet, but I take some pride in being at least a decent editor. And yes, I love all my kids, and all my grandchildren, very, very much! Thank you.

  5. John,
    I have nominate you for some awards, please check
    Congratulations and have a wonderful day!

    Warm wishes,