I Just Stood Outside the Door and Cried*

It has hard to say goodbye.
Even when the end comes with such a warning
and time to adjust,
time to spend saying good-bye.

When they had done all they could
she wanted to just come home.
She’d known long ago
how small time had become.
Long before we knew
for she never let on
and never let us see it in her eyes.

She just smiled
and told stories of years ago.
Some of the time she wrote
about growing up in east Texas,
her early memories.

She smiled and laughed
never giving way to worry or gloom.
I smiled too and laughed
and tried to do as she,
ignoring the darkness that lay ahead.

I had always known her strength.
It was surprising
‘tho I had seen it many times
through the years, but not like this.
Not with the weight and finality of it all.

She smiled and talked about her sisters
and about the old farm.
She talked of being the class poet
in high school.
She talked of running barefoot
across the dark east Texas dirt.
And smiled all day; every day
and so did I.

She never knew that each night
I crept down the hall
just to check on her.
And often I would hear her cry
quietly alone, where no one would hear,
no one would see
in that room where she filled the days with smiles.

I couldn’t go comfort her
for that would have hurt her even more.
I just stood outside the door and cried.

Michael Mathews
Feb 15, 2025
(1 month from what would have been her 86th birthday)
12:12 PM
Watching for the ice storm. . .