A Poem To My Cardinal In Heaven

A Poem To My Cardinal In Heaven

I dedicate this poem and everything I do, in loving memory of you.
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Not a day goes by,

That we don’t think of you and want to cry.

No matter how many years you have been gone,

Your memory will always live on.

Papa, I just want you to know,

We can never, ever, let you go.


I hope that we have all made you proud,

When we think about you, our hearts pump loud.

Everything we do, we do for you,

And when you swoop by, we know it’s your way of saying you love us too.


I think about how we used to play Pretty Pretty Princess,

And you let me dress you up, even though you looked like a mess.

You would always “be in the neighborhood” to just drop on by,

And when I saw you I would jump for the sky.

You liked to bring me a lot of new toys,

These are some of the things that I enjoyed.


Although our time together was cut too short,

I never doubted that I had all of your support.

I dedicate this poem and everything I do,

In loving memory of you.


Love,

Your Little Buddy

Cover Image Credit: The Barkan Family

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Dear Mom, From Your Daughter In College

Here are all the things our phone calls aren't long enough to say.
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Dear Mom,

Do you remember when I was three and we would play together? It was the age of princesses and carpet that was actually lava, and you were the prettiest woman in the whole wide world. Do you remember when I was in high school and the world seemed too big and scary? You would know exactly when to take me on a mother-daughter date and have me laughing about anything and everything, and you were the smartest woman in the whole wide world. Now, I'm buried in homework and deadlines hours away from you and we don't get to talk as much you want, but you're still the prettiest, smartest woman in the whole wide world.

I'm sorry that I don't call you as much as I should, and you know a lot of what goes on in my world via posts and pictures. Our schedules just seem to never line up so we can have the three-hour conversations about everything like I want to. I know we don't agree on absolutely everything, but I cherish every piece of advice you give me, even though it probably seems like I'm hardly listening. I know that sometimes we get on each other's nerves, but thank you for putting up with me for all of these years. Thank you for listening to me cry, complain, question things and go on and on about how everything in college is. I know I don't come home as much as I used to, but I think about you all the time. After all, you're my first friend, and therefore, my best friend.

Thank you for celebrating my successes with me, and not downing me too hard for my failures. Thank you for knowing what mistakes I shouldn't make, but letting me make them anyway because you want me to live my life and be my own person. Thank you for knowing when to ask about the boy I've been talking about, and when to stop without any questions. Thank you for letting me be my crazy, weird, sometimes know-it-all self.

Thank you for sitting back and watching me spread my wings and fly. There is no way I could have known how to grow into the woman I am today if I hadn't watched you while I was growing up so I would know what kind of person I should aspire to be. Thank you for being the first (and the best) role model I ever had. You continue to inspire and amaze me every day with all that you do, and all that you are.

I don't know how I got so lucky to have a person in my life like you, but I thank the Lord every night for blessing me with the smartest, prettiest person to be my best friend, my role model, my confidant, my person and most importantly, my mother.

Love,

Your daughter

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Remembering My Grandma's One-Of-A-Kind Recipe

Like the melancholy candies in Because of Winne Dixie, the infamous orange cake brings more than just a taste. It recalls a timeline of memories that I shared with my grandmother, or at least I think it would…

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Years ago, and hand-in-hand, my grandmother and I shuffled and shaked around the terracotta floors of her beach condominium, baking the most decadent cake, the infamous orange cake.

Her and this cake had a lot in common: The cake was almost as sweet as her. As soon as she or it was gone, you wanted, needed, more. The brilliant zest and orange-scented buttercream could even keep up with her one-of-a-kind flair. These are my memories of Grandma Margie and our cake – two things that are now out of touch but always within reach of my mind.

My grandmother passed away seven years ago from the terrible monster of cancer. As time has continued since her passing, it has become easier for me to swallow my memories of this cake, the memories of her. I can now say that the songs we sang together, the little habits she performed, and pictures that seem to float up from nowhere can pass me on most days and be taken in with a soft smile and a gratitude prayer for all she gave to me. This week, however, my mind and soul are weeping for the memories we made.

It was Sunday evening when I received the phone call from my mother. My early childhood neighbor had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, what is known as malignant "octopus tumors." Together, Nicolette and my grandmother were united by this ravenous disease that invades and overtakes. Immediately, I broke into tears. Remembering my mother's previous texts of the day, mentioning heartbreak, devastation, and sadness, I gasped in all the air I could find to hold back the sobbing. I wanted to be strong for my mother – the same way my grandmother had been for all of us. It was as soon as we said goodnight that the unrelenting flood of emotion overcame me. There was no stopping the tears, even though I tried to remember my grandmother's saying that crying only makes your eyes puffy and your nose red. Sunday night, my looks didn't matter.

At just twenty-nine years old, Nicolette has now had her life taken from her for sixteen months. It was hard enough for me to understand why a seventy-five-year-old woman had to suffer, never mind this young soul. Even in the difficulties I face as I take bites into each new day this week, I must remind myself of the ingredients my grandmother gave to me for a delicious life:

1. There is ALWAYS more to give.

Grandma Margie gave, and gave, and gave. As an in-home nurse, she spent time around the clock giving up her time for the benefit of others. She never came around empty-handed. Whether it be a handwritten card or a present for a milestone birthday, she did this solely for the smile that lit up the room when she handed out her gifts. With her, there was always a piece of advice that you would not only listen to but use. Even in her time of pain, she still had all of this. A tradition that is still carried out in my family today is this: each time there is a celebration for yourself, whether it be a birthday or an achievement, always ensure that there is something for those who are surrounding you. These people are your support. Without them, would you be where you are? There is always more to give to those people – ways to thank them, make them proud, and more. Put everything you have into all you do. Give.

2. Never leaves sour. Always leave sweet. 

It's sort of like the saying for couples: never go to bed angry. But for her, it went beyond this. Grandma Margie ensured that she left each room better than when she entered it. Frowns were turned into smiles. Despair was turned into hope. The list goes on. Through these actions, my grandmother left this earth surrounded by others who saw something in her that I don't think she saw in herself. It was her light that shined, reflected, radiated, and has even grown since her passing in 2011. Choose to make something better.

3. A smile goes further than shedding suffering. 

In her final fourteen months with us, she suffered, daily. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Sterile bed sheets. Loneliness. Inability. But, she didn't see any of this. Instead, Grandma Margie saw the warmed butter croissant she would get at the hospital Au Bon Pain or the newest hat she would find at a local HomeGoods. She would look forward to the presents she could still give her grandchildren and the smile she might bring to the nurse's face with her snappy attitude. Yes, she still had it! My grandmother continued to let her light shine, regardless of her physical pain. She knew, inside, that this is what helped the ones that stood beside her. Whatever the moment had for you, offer something more positive to another.

All I have left is the memory, the taste. Somedays are sour. Somedays are sweet. For all of those remembering their loved ones, I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to remember this when smelling her perfume, hearing her favorite song, or seeing her favorite film: "It crosses your mind, and a smile comes to your lips before a tear to your eye. That's how you know. I promise you; I give you my word, I promise you, this I know. The day will come. That day will come" (Joe Biden, at John McCain's funeral).

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