A story of grief by a man and a boy

what if

What if we’d never left home that day,
What if we’d travelled a different way.
What if we’d gone by taxi not train,
What if we’d only had starter not main.
What if I’d worn pink and you’d worn blue,
Would I have been taken instead of you?
What if you and I had fought that day,
What if we’d both had cross words to say.
What if we’d spoken in anger not love,
What if I’d prayed harder to God above.
What if His attention were on me and you,
Would a different three now just be two?
What if you’d drunk red and I’d drunk white,
What if we’d played different music that night.
What if I’d been ill the day before,
What if we’d never walked out that door.
What if the street had a different name,
Would things have worked out just the same?
What if our horoscopes had said ‘take care’,
What if they’d told us ‘don’t go there’.
What if we’d both known something was wrong,
What if we’d both known all along.
What if we’d known we had just eight years,
Would four have been laughter and four have been tears?
What if the skies were yellow not blue,
What if you were me and I were you.
What if a butterfly hadn’t fluttered its wings,
What if ‘what ifs’ could change these things.
What if ‘what ifs’ could make things right,
Would ‘what ifs’ have been there that night?
What if you and I had one more day,
What if I could do anything to make you stay.
What if our son could hold your hand,
What if we could help him understand.
What if the three of us could be back together,
Would I ever leave your sides? Not I. Not ever.
What if our son could hold your hand? What if we could help him understand?

What if our son could hold your hand? What if we could help him understand?

26 comments on “what if

  1. Lucie
    July 22, 2013

    Wow. That’s a-mazing. Will anyone be able to read that without crying? Very powerful. xxx

  2. Michael Adams
    July 22, 2013

    Brought a tear to my eye Ben…. The what If’s are hard…. take care bud

  3. kingmiige
    July 22, 2013

    That brought a tear to my eye. What if’s…… So difficult. Take care bud

  4. Naomii Chaplain
    July 22, 2013

    Beautifully written torture.
    I bend my mind with “what ifs” every day. I hope and pray for a day when things feel better for you. X

  5. Celia Marszal Iannelli
    July 22, 2013

    What if, If only, …..I know. Could I have done it differently? if only I knew he was going to die…that for me is the biggie….

  6. Paul R
    July 22, 2013

    I’ve had ‘what ifs’ about other things, but the ones surrounding the death of my wife are definitely the most painful and persistent.

  7. Carrie Dunne
    July 22, 2013

    Ben, your poem is perfect.
    If only….? What if? Why didn’t I notice?
    These questions haunt us in grief.
    Thank you for always being able to articulate such grief so eloquently.
    Carrie x

  8. anyapilates
    July 22, 2013

    Impossible to read this beautiful poem without tears of empathy and heartbreak for you and Jackson. What ifs are a horrendous and futile part of bereavement torment x

  9. Kate C
    July 22, 2013

    heart breaking

  10. Rose
    July 22, 2013

    An amazing poem Ben, it made me cry to, such strong and meaningful words x

  11. bedraggledandkicking
    July 22, 2013

    Incredibly beautiful, and so heartbreaking. I continue to read your blog, and even as a complete stranger, am so sad for your family’s loss. Having suffered recent loss, knowing what grief is like, makes it even more visceral and painful to read, yet somehow, we find connection when we share grief, even if our grief is for different people. Take care. xx

  12. Cj Swaby
    July 22, 2013

    Powerful poem Ben. I remember ‘What if” was a question I asked myself too. Thank you for sharing. Shine on.

  13. Trish
    July 22, 2013

    dear Ben….a really touchy and marvellous poem. my sister also lost her husband 12 years ago when both were only thirty two. they were happily married for six years. since he died I watched my loving sis enduring her pain. its been 12 years and still now I feel the pain. from the moment he died I saw my sis’s fight to b normal and happy. I always thought “what if it was only a nightmare n what if I could do to take her pain away. so I can get a glimpse of ur feelings…..n I have a 4 yr old son n I try to imagine how his life would b without me..!!!! so I feel connected to u n Jackson in some way. love u all.
    I wish we had the power to change our destiny just for once.

  14. J. Shah
    July 22, 2013

    So many ‘what if’s…..if only we could change what’s been and gone…..we can’t, so we torture ourselves with ‘what if’.

  15. AgeingTenor
    July 22, 2013

    Totally beautiful, Ben. I hope you don’t mind if I say (((Hug)))).

    The way I see it is that I can’t complain about the totally random way that my Anne was taken from me (cancer) without complaining in a similar fashion about the way we found each other in the first place. She was living in Cornwall and came up to teacher training college in London – totally random.

    Take care, my friend.


    July 23, 2013

    Beautiful. Heartbreaking. You are in my thoughts x

  17. always a mum
    July 24, 2013

    What if … two words I knew so well. I think it is absolutely necessary to state our what ifs, glad you have been able to articulate them and hope when the time comes you will be able to say what if I can live again, a step that eventually came for me but my babies are never forgotten and still a part of our lives!

  18. Fi
    July 26, 2013

    Wow – fab and heartbreaking xx

  19. Amanda
    August 7, 2013

    xxx x

  20. iamjapsarcillas
    August 9, 2013

    heart breaking poem. 😦

  21. codedjeannie
    August 12, 2013

    a melancholic poem that really touches my heart.. Stay strong!

  22. lorna
    August 15, 2013

    What a heartfelt and beautiful piece of writing. I think i was in tears at what if we’d travelled a different way! This really is a wonderful way to channel your grief.. I remember reading about your wifes tragedy in November and I am happy that you have used the enormous pain and anger you must feel to write instead of shut off from the world. I have suffered illness a lot since I was 25 and spent a lot of time on my own, not being able to work – life is so precious and we need to be told this often. Peace and love to you and your son. I’ll keep reading..x

  23. Martha
    September 6, 2013

    Ben, your words are so heartbreakingly poignant, touching and hauntingly powerful, the torture of grief so accurately conveyed. If there is anyone who can try and explain to your beautiful son why things are as they are, it’s you. And if your book is shaping up to be anything like this you mustn’t be nervous at all. So much love and well-wishes to you both x

  24. Gary Kitchen
    September 20, 2013

    I loved the poem …I often run these thoughts through my own mind from time to time! What if my wife had discovered her cancer sooner? What if we had never met?

  25. Pingback: what if (2) | widowspique

  26. MostlyVictoria
    March 21, 2014

    I’m sure so many others will relate to so much of this – beautiful, powerful 🌻

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