I lost the love of my life to kidney cancer on September 27, 2013. The next several days were sleepless, sprinkled with catnaps born from pure exhaustion. I roamed through our house. Sometimes staring at family pictures, going through closets and drawers, or looking at jewelry I had given to her on special occasions. I listened closely to our favorite songs, hearing the words that, at times, would drive too deep. I was trying to avoid reality, the truth too harsh, too cold. I couldn’t let go. I wanted to consume everything that was Linda.

Written by Frances Battisella September 27 1967

Written by Frances Battistella September 29, 1967

Late one night while looking through a file box I found a file marked personal. It contained many of the common things we all save—pictures, awards, old letters, wedding invitations—and some unusual keepsakes—a receipt for a Ford Mustang Linda bought in 1992, and the deed to the first property we purchased when we moved from Michigan to Florida. Tucked between old documents was a yellowed envelope. My name was written on the front in cursive but no street address. When I opened it, I was stunned by the date scrawled at the top of the sheet of rice paper—September 29, 1967. That was the year Linda and I were married. Then I remembered that it was also the year that my grandmother lost her husband to cancer. While I stared at the date I realized that today’s date was September 29. I began to sob. My Grandmother, Frances Battistella, had written a poem about the loss of the man she loved. Now, forty-six years from the day it was penned, I lay on the floor reading her powerful words. They reminded me of a line from “Let Her Go” by Passenger—”maybe one day you will understand why, everything you touch surely dies.”’ Please read my Grandmother’s poem below. Notice at the top of the actual  handwritten poem that the paper is so thin her signature bleeds through backward.

September 29, 1967

How long do I cry?

Because you are gone.

How long do I cry?

How can I live on?


How long before the ache

Leaves this heart of mine?

They all tell me healing

Will come with time


How long do I miss the touch

Of your hand

How long until I make myself



Why you had to leave me alone

No more to see your dear face

Feel your strength and your love

In this great empty space


How long do I weep?

And feel all this pain

How long until I’m in your arms

Once again


How long do I cry?

I’ll tell you my darling

Until the day

I too die


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