going Home, a pilgrimage through grief

going Home – Introduction: This poem was originally delivered to a hospice gathering.

Good afternoon. My name is Tom Hodges. I would like to share with you today a poem that I wrote in memory of my wife, Joan Hodges, who died of colon cancer in June of 2007. The poem is entitled:  going Home: a pilgrimage through grief.

A pilgrimage is defined as a journey to a sacred place or a shrine or, as I like to think of it, a journey with a spiritual purpose. This has certainly been true in my case.

All of the words in the poem are in lower case except two: the word Home and the word Love. I capitalized Home and Love to indicate that they refer to something transcending a home with four walls, something transcending human love.

My poem is unusual in structure. There is no rhyme or meter; there are no sentences or even phrases. I use single words to tell the story of my pilgrimage. Each word represents an important event in the pilgrimage or a deeply felt emotion.

The first section is happy –  it tells of our courtship and marriage. The second section is sad –  it tells of Joan s illness and death. The third section is hopeful –  as I tell about the aftermath of her death and my attempts to promote the healing of my soul. As you might guess, writing the poem was a healing experience for me.

going Home, a pilgrimage through grief

joan
encounter, eyes, smile, laughter
enchantment, angel, goddess
talking, singing, sharing, holding
happiness, joy, love
rabbi, vows, union
days, weeks, months, years
plans, trips, family, friends, laughter, hope
going Home: safety, warmth, comfort, Love

discomfort, pain
doctors, scans
cancer
shock, fear, anger, hope, pray
doctors, nurses, hospitals
scalpels, pills, tubes, injections, pain
waiting, hoping
waiting, hoping
hopeless, hopeless
anger, disappointment, tears, depression, resignation
hospice, nurse
morphine, waiting, breathing, rattle
silence
cold
tears, loneliness
going Home: safety, warmth, comfort, Love

calls, neptune, rabbi, family, friends
messages, cards, condolences, hugs
eulogy, grief, ashes
letters, lawyer, accountant, bank
cupboards, closets, drawers, goodwill
friends, neighbors, meals, talk, healing
walk, read, think, meditate, healing
memories, photos, gifts, healing
tears, smiles, tears, smiles, healing
not doing, doing, not doing, doing, healing
write, draw, paint, sculpt, healing
quiet, silence, meditate, healing
quiet, silence, pray, healing
think, feel, imagine, healing
group, listen, talk, share, healing
days, weeks, months, years, healing
plans, trips, family, friends, laughter, hope
going Home: safety, warmth, comfort, Love

Joan Tanya Hodges

in memory of joan tanya hodges
hugh t. hodges, 2008

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About Hugh Thomas Hodges

I am a retired college teacher who lives on the San Francisco Peninsula.
This entry was posted in Bereavement poems & essays. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to going Home, a pilgrimage through grief

  1. steveb0581 says:

    Love it Tom! You have a way with words!

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