Editors’ note: Many of us find that the anniversary of a loved one’s death date brings with it unexpected waves of sorrow. Some cultures make a point of including ritual around those anniversary dates. Others find ways as individuals or within families to mark the passage of time and honor the memory of their loved one. Still others may not mark the date, but find themselves experiencing emotion and/or memory around a significant birthdate, anniversary, death anniversary, or holiday like Mother’s/Father’s Day. We’d welcome your accounts of how you’ve observed a significant date marker, or details of particular memory rituals or prayers you may observe. (Click here to submit your story.)

To get the conversation on this topic going at ThePerennialGen.com, we’re sharing the following bit of free verse from Carol Longenecker Hiestand as she reflected, remembered, and connected with the emotions she was feeling on the third anniversary of her father’s passing.  

* * * * * * *

I miss my Dad’s presence in my life
that stage of life that wasn’t shouting
“You are losing him”
when he was timeless, ageless.
I  didn’t have to think of losing him
because he would always be

Then came the inexorable march to
decline and I started to hope it might happen
soon because I knew it couldn’t get any better.
And even he wanted to
“go home”.

Next, the immediate relief when it was over
a curious blend of grief and gladness;
with more gladness than

Because I knew the difficult
end-of-life struggle for him, for me. 
And the need to be careful who I talk to
about the struggle, because others might think I
didn’t want to take care of him
anymore, and I knew I

I know my dad is safely

After a while, I began to wonder about my own

When I do, I fear for my children
going through the same process
with me if I live a long life
leading to my gradual

I don’t want this for them,
so I pray for them, knowing
they will travel their own
journey with me, trusting Jesus
to be present with them as he was
with me when my father

I learn and believe
these passages are part of the life we live
our souls wrapped in this flesh.
I find comfort in
the psalmist’s words:
“When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who
love him.” (Psalm 116:5 MSG)


Carol Longenecker Hiestand writes when inspired about things that often go unnoticed, and sees herself as a storyteller. She’s a wife, mom, grandmother, and friend living right in the middle of the second half of life. She’s passionate about writing to and for her grandchildren about her life, passing on the things she’s learned. You’ll often find her immersed in making photo books for our family, working to keep her  scattered family connected. She’s a lover of all shades of purple and rose. Lilacs, waterfalls, any body of water, porch swings and Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (when she can find it!) make her happy.

Photo by Esther Wiegardt on Unsplash