The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Tag: loss

Goodnight, Ert and Jim.

In the last ten days, I have lost my dear father-in-law and my mentor from high school and college.  It has been an emotional time, there have been a funeral and a memorial, lots of connections with people I had, until this week, lost touch with, and lots of new connections with family members I had never met before this.

If you knew these two people, it would probably seem strange to read me writing about them both in the same essay as they were so very different from each other in what they did for a living – one was a teacher, and the other was a man of many hats, but generally a salesman.  They came from different generations, and had different takes on most things, but I’m sure they would have gotten along tremendously.

One thing that they had in common was that they both were larger than life.  They knew what they had – that life is precious.  The could both tell stories for hours and make you laugh and laugh.  They were both mesmerizing.  And they both were universally loved.

What I loved about each of them is that I always felt like I was seen.  I was an interesting person to them.  My ideas mattered, and I was more able to articulate them through knowing them.  Ert, especially, helped me with this.  I was in his Speech class in high school, and I took it so, so seriously.  I remember writing and rewriting my speeches.  I wanted them to be perfect, to strike the right tone, to say the right things.  I never took any of my other assignments in high school so seriously.  Any of them.  Never.

Now I am probably taking this blog too seriously.  I have started it several times over the past two days – it seems impossible to strike the right tone and tell you exactly why I loved these two people so much.  But maybe it’s not important that it be perfect, maybe I have only to say that I did love them both, and that both of them have shaped my life in ways that they will never know, and that I will try to be as natural and wonderful and loving as they both were.


I had plans once, Isabella

I had plans once, Isabella


I had plans, once.

They were simple, really.

Paint a room, refinish a rocking chair

Knit some booties.


There has not been a reason to follow through

Seeds have not started to grow

I gave you a second chance, a third, to show.

Sometimes I feel it like a plague

Other times my feelings are hazily vague.


Some months the sight of that blood brings bright, spiky pain

Others, I feel a contempt for the fool that I have been again.

The sorrow that I have could fill up a lake

Sometimes it’s a lot to take


And then there are times

When I think of all those plans

They stand boldly contrasting the life I have lived,

I have to think that this is the way it’s supposed to be

Even though it’s not what I thought I wanted

There’s nothing wrong with me,

And I am thankful


Thankful even for the sorrow of your loss by default

Because it defines me, Isa,

And you’re still in my heart, in the vault.


C 2006 Sheila McMahon

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