photo boxes and red leather shoes

today we went through
the remnants of you

a box of school papers,
drawings of stick people
long and strong, standing like
the pillars they were for you
I help your mom decide
what to keep and what to give away

we find your favorite shoes
the ones I bought
the day after you moved in with me
funny how shoes
can mean so much
a world of memories in worn red leather
and white shoelaces
I hug them for a while
as your mom reads a letter she found
where you confess your young love
but never sent it
did they ever know?
perhaps it was your secret
(until now)

your entire life
reduced down to small flashes
kept in a box
I pick up a photo of you
when you were 1 year old
our bald copper-skinned baby
that always smiled at strangers
and ran to me whenever I was around
your sweet angel face
looks back with such innocence,
I find myself choking the tears back
for fear that you could read it on my face
that you would be diagnosed the next year
and carry the weight of a lifetime of
sickness and fighting for your life
with traces of happiness squished in between

my brave niece, never blaming
never angry
always finding ways to enjoy life
despite the hospitals, needles, and pain
always comforting rather than being comforted
your warm flesh and soft hand
my best memories of you

I put the photo down
and hide it in the bottom of the pile
so that you, my beautiful little baby,
cannot see the design
from the telling sadness in my eyes
that you would die at 19
and leave us behind
hugging your shoes
and reading your letters
and not wanting to let anything go
to hold on to each piece and fragment
so we stop feeling like we’re losing more of you
than we already have

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photo boxes and red leather shoes by 

Time doesn’t always erase the pain

I am a dreamer, artist, and mother. I dance in the rain, spend too much time reading books, and live for my family. I am a gypsy, poet, musician, and artist. But most of all, I am a butterfly fairy. Come dream with me.

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  • Del Millar
    Del Millarover 5 years ago

    A treasure of a poem as is the subject to treausre in memories.
    I am picturing you hugging those red shoes,
    my heart goes out to you, my eyes are full of tears reading this and for your loss,
    and for the beautiful loving you; that your niece had you in her life is a
    blessing, and she will know your poem and be smiling her love throughout your life.

    lots of love to you PJ oxo

  • thank you sooooo much del… it was an emotionally draining day, and drudged up a lot of feelings, but it gave us a day to pay homage together to this beautiful girl growing into a woman that we lost too soon. i feel like i was graced by a living angel and am just so thankful to have known her.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Alexis Elizabeth
    Alexis Elizabethover 5 years ago

    Wow. So powerful, and amazing. Great piece, it drips with your sorrow.

  • thank you Alexis, so much… it’s been hard for me to write about losing her, it’s been 6 months now, bottled up inside me. it’s a hole inside of me that nobody else can fill.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Alexis Elizabeth
    Alexis Elizabethover 5 years ago

    Healing is a process I never enjoyed going through or dealing with, but once you’re on the other side, you won’t believe how you’ve changed. Hang in there love. :)

  • Thanks Alexis.. it’s never easy but journeys never are. I appreciate your sweet support.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Angela Harelson
    Angela Harelsonover 5 years ago

    Truly an amazing and powerful piece. Those we cherish, tied tightly to our hearts…it’s devastating when we lose them so young, too soon. Prayers and love to you and yours.

  • Too true, Angela, it can be so hard to deal with. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Astoreth
    Astorethover 5 years ago

    I cried with you as I read this beautiful writing and I know this kind of pain as it reminded me so much of losing my beautiful young nephew at the tender age of sixteen and when my sister and I went through his belongings ……. there is no pain quite like it. I hate the term that ‘time heals everything’ because it most certainly does not but what I have experienced is that it dulls the pain to make it a bit more bearable, which is the best we can hope for in this life. Big hugs and kisses to you darling one. xxxx

  • Jane, thank you so much… I know that everyone experiences death, losing someone you love.. I have many times in my life.. but losing someone so young, so precious, i thought it wouldn’t be this hard. it’s hard to explain to others, i feel comfort knowing you understand. i’m so sorry for your loss as well (and to your sister).. some pain just doesn’t go away but you are right, we learn how to deal with it and continue living. my greatest inspiration is feeling like i need to live for her… i’ve started taking a different path, doing things i normally wouldn’t have, because i got the chance to keep going i want to not take that in vain. that’s the best i can do.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Cassey
    Casseyover 5 years ago

    This is a gorgeous and heart wrenching tribute to someobe who meant so much to you. I felt every word and every tear. Great writing PJ.

  • thank you so much cass…. it means so much to me.

    – ShadowDancer

  • David A. Everitt (aka silverstrummer)
    David A. Everi...over 5 years ago

    Your words are such an accolade for your niece and the lovely memories that you have gleaned over the years will eventually make you smile as you remember those happy times. Pain does ease but also takes time to do this.My partner lost her daughter when she was two and a half and still 30 years down the road the hurt is still there but not as much. My sincere condolences to you and your family. – David

  • oh david, you’ve been a pillar for me knowing we share some of the same pain.. i hope you & your family are blessed and cope well with the things they are dealing with. my neice was such a special person, even at her funeral people would smile and laugh in remembrance of her sweet quirky soul. she will be missed, and i won’t let her be forgotten. xx

    – ShadowDancer

  • Ushna Sardar
    Ushna Sardarover 5 years ago


  • thank you!!!

    – ShadowDancer

  • Lenroe
    Lenroeover 5 years ago

    Tears are streaming down my face. Your writing touched my soul. Your life will have great blessings because your niece touched the souls of everyone who knew her. She is an inspiration and through you and her loved one’s she will live. (If you haven’t already you really need to show this to all her loved one’s.) You made me a stranger feel love.

  • Oh Lenroe, thank you so much for your words of warmth and wisdom… I hadn’t decided if I would share this with the family, as I’m a little private, but with your encouragement I did send it to my sister (her mother).. I truly thank you, your comment meant the world to me.

    – ShadowDancer

  • Erika .
    Erika .over 5 years ago

    Oh wow, I am speechless, this one hit me like a rock. So deep and meaningful and emotional, I’m choking back tears. Amazing, heartfelt poem.
    By the way, congrats on your feature. X

  • erika, i’m honored that this resonated within you… thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

    – ShadowDancer

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