Denise Day Spencer

April 4, 2011

One-year anniversary

Filed under: Personal reflections,poetry — denisedayspencer @ 8:26 pm

Michael, you always said you thought that when we died we’d be amazed at how close heaven and earth had been all along, and we just didn’t realize it.
No, we don’t realize it. How can we?

Dark Side

I hold your shirt to my face and breathe in your scent.
Where was it that you went
that day?
You forgot to pack before you went away.

I take your books from off the shelf, the pages worn.
You loved the words, the lore
of each.
But now your story takes you beyond my reach.

I gaze at the nearest foothills, past muddy fields.
A search beyond would yield
‘Tis not in woods or earth your spirit takes wing.

I wonder at the brightness of the burning sun.
If I could to it run
or fly,
not in its heat would you see His majesty.

Where are you? Is it as they say, or do shadows
fall around you high, low,
black hues
stilling your voice and now keeping Him from view?

I stand with face upturned, survey the midnight stars.
The answer comes with tears,
and soon.
I am the one on the dark side of the moon.



  1. Very moving poem, Denise. My heart goes out to you.

    Comment by JoanieD — April 4, 2011 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  2. My prayers have been with you, Denise, and will continue to be.

    Comment by Cynthia Jones — April 5, 2011 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

  3. Denise,

    We are burying my mother-in-law this Tuesday. She was married to her husband for 63 years, the last two of which were spent in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s. Even under these conditions, my father in law grieves just as deeply. It is not the untimeliness of Michael’s death (is there such a thing as a “timely” death), but death alone that is the enemy that inflicts the wounds. It is the same unbearable pain no matter if now or 40 years from now at the end of your life. Death is the enemy. Our only hope is that Jesus promises for all of this, it will be a conquered enemy.

    But not soon enough, dear Lord. Not soon enough.

    Comment by Caine — April 21, 2011 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  4. Denise,

    As Pascha/Easter draws toward sundown you were on my mind. I have never lost a spouse, but I have lost loved ones. I can imagine how you ache, grieve and miss Michael. My hope and prayer this evening is that the Resurrection Light will ease your pain and encourage for that time when you and Michael shall see one another in the presence of God.


    Comment by John Morgan — April 24, 2011 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  5. Denise,

    In many ways I survived the first year after my wife died. What we need is folks to be there to cry with us a year, two years….till we learn to live with our loss.

    365 Days

    Three hundred and sixty five days
    I have lived
    With your death.
    I have seen your face appear
    in a burst of sunshine,
    in a cloud of rain.
    I have heard your voice call out
    in a gentle breeze,
    in a howling wind.
    I have felt your mind’s energy come through
    the moving air,
    the night’s despair.
    Your music called to me.
    Your eyes looked out intensely in a thought.
    Your eyes smile down in knowledge of a truth.
    I felt your presence all around – I’d start to laugh
    but then I’d look…you were gone –
    a vision disappeared in space and time
    Leaving me alone to face the emptiness,
    Leaving me alone to face reality
    That you are dead and I’m alive
    And what was once will never be again.

    Three hundred and sixty five days
    I have lived
    With your death.
    A cycle’s coming to an end as I emerge to face the light.
    You were one of my greatest joys –
    that joy contained my greatest sorrow;
    The philosophers wrote poems about it.
    I thought I understood what they all meant –
    all this talk of
    joy and sorrow,
    light and shade,
    highs and lows,
    Just words inside my head.

    Three hundred and sixty five days gone by,
    My heart has learned the lesson through its pain.
    My head now comprehends
    And there are scars
    But how the love of life remains.

    Three hundred and sixty five days
    I have lived
    With your death.
    Now I’m learning to live
    With your life
    Inside of mine.

    Author Unknown
    June 18, 1977

    Comment by Philip Winter — May 4, 2011 @ 6:39 am | Reply

  6. Hospice of Schenectady


    You asked, “How are you doing?”
    As I told you, tears came to my eyes, you immediately began to talk again, your eyes looked away from me, your speech picked up, and all the attention you had given me went away.

    How am I doing? I do better when people will listen to my response, even though I may shed a tear or two, for I so want their attention: but to be ignored because I have in me pain which is indescribable to anyone who has not been there, I hurt and feel angry. So when you look away, I am again alone with it.

    Really, tears are not a bad sign, you know! They’re Nature’s way of helping me to heal. They relieve some of the stress of sadness. I know you fear that asking how I’m doing brought this sadness to me. No, you’re wrong, the memory of my wife’s death will always be with me, only a thought away. It’s just that my tears make my pain more visible to you, but you did not give me this pain, it’s just there.

    When I cry, could it be that you feel helpless? You’re not, you know. When I feel your permission to allow my tears to flow, you’ve helped me more than you can know.

    You need not verbalize your support of my tears, your silence as I cry is my key, do no fear.

    Your listening with your heart to “how are you doing?” helps relieve the pain, because once I allow the tears to come and go, I feel lighter. Talking to you releases things I’ve been wanting to say aloud, and then there’s space for a touch of joy in my life.

    Honest, when I tear up and cry, that doesn’t mean I’ll cry forever-maybe just a minute or two-then I’ll wipe the tears away, and sometimes you’ll even find I’m laughing at something funny ten minutes later.

    When I hold back my tears, my throat grows tight, my chest aches and my stomach begins to knot up, because I’m trying to protect you from my tears. Then we both hurt, me, because I’ve kept the pain inside and it’s a shield against our closeness, and then you hurt because suddenly, we’re distant.

    Please, take my hand, and I promise not to cry forever, (it’s physically impossible, you know).

    When you see me through my tears, then we can be close again.

    Comment by Philip Winter — May 4, 2011 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  7. As Ms Biddy commented in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, “He entered into life”.
    Michael’s book Mere Churchianity was very inspiring to me. Blessings,

    Comment by Johnnie Freyermuth — June 12, 2011 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  8. Still in my thoughts and prayers, Denise.

    Comment by Susan — July 22, 2011 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

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