I’ve been thinking a lot about potential lately…..

Future Potential,

Unrealized Potential,

Untapped Potential, or even,

Staying because of Potential.

It is an odd contemplation.  Unrealized potential is a little easier to digest, yet the saddest, because it might not be self determined.   This includes those who cannot find their groove, succumb to circumstance, or just cannot get a break. Recently, unrealized potential was contemplated due to the remembrance of an untimely death of a child, years ago. The girl was a friend of my oldest son – soon to be 25 – when they were in elementary school.

She came to his birthday party in the fall of their third grade year. Our “olympic theme” had an obstacle course set up in our back yard.  Fun was had by all. I remember it well! I’m glad they were friends. She was a beautiful girl from a good family, wholesome and very kind. But, she succumbed to cancer, many, but not too many, years later.  A horrible diagnosis of brain cancer in a teenaged girl, just coming into her prime. We were on vacation, heading home from Estes Park, Colorado, in 2010, when news came of her death. As a parent, it was an uncomfortable reminder of our own humanity and mortality. A good, smart, beautiful girl…taken too soon. Today, 7/11/19, was the ninth anniversary of her death. I texted my son to remind him of the untimely anniversary and to count his blessings. They had been friends. She was gone. We remain sad.

In my past life, as a nurse, I have been exposed to and understand death. But, it does not make it any easier to accept. This is especially true of children who have not tested the realm of their mortality by the excesses of life but merely lived a good and clean existence and were still taken too soon.  Truly, I do not understand it.  Perhaps, Billy Joel had it right, when he told us that “only the good die young” in the lyrics of one of his most famous songs.   I hate to think that but cannot come up with any other excuse for a young life being taken too soon.

I think of the potential this young girl had within her. She was smart, beautiful, loved animals, and was kind. Why would she be taken too soon? In dealing with her cancer diagnosis she was reportedly brave, uncomplaining, strong, and optimistic right until the end.  Who is like that? Only an angel, I think. To this day, she is referred to as one.

A Poem for an Angel that Smiles

Like the wings of a monarch all folded up inside a chrysalis,

the next stage is yet to be determined and depends on many factors.

Timing, temperature, wind, and weather are all variables that determine

the success of a continued life.


We all want to live, to breathe, to continue.

Some are granted this wish and others, not.

Why? What determines this realized potential?


Is it the alignment of stars, the faith in a higher power,

the good life being lived? Or, nothing, none of the above.

I wonder. The thought tests my faith.


Remembering is good, so my son told me last night.

Yes, it is. Remembering our good fortunes, not so much the visible

ones of prosperity and satiation, warmth and health, but those intangible times,

such as the smile on the face of an angel running through an obstacle course

as nine year old girl, many moons ago.


Today is Poetry Friday. Thank you for hosting, Jone Rush MacCulloch. Please visit her page for an awesome poetry idea if you teach!  There are also links to other poets. Enjoy!


10 thoughts

  1. Out of this sad story arises your beautiful poem. My heart aches for all the parents who have lost children for whatever reason. Even though my boys are adults with children of their own, losing one of them is still my worst nightmare. And now I get to fret about grandchildren too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure the birthday party memory is one to savor and remember. As your son said, remembering is good.
    My post this week also touches on potential, although in a much lighter vein.

    Liked by 1 person

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