When my dad died, it was very difficult to believe that he was really gone. For the longest time, I told myself that he was “on a trip.” I had repeated dreams that he returned to us from the mountains, and we all had a good laugh for how long it took him to get back to us. When I came across this poem by James Whitcomb Riley, it expressed my feelings perfectly. I thought I’d share this poem for no reason other than I was missing my parents a lot this week.
He Is Not Dead
I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
For an old-time step, and the glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same. I say,
He is not dead—he is just away.
–James Whitcomb Riley