Advice from a dead best friend

Put on your shoes and walk in the world,
talking to me. I’m right here with you;
I’m always within reach. It’s a good time
to chat, so go ahead. You’ll know it’s me
when you know it’s me. But even when
you’re not sure, I’m listening.

Sure, I can help you find missing things,
but I’m not one of them. I have not
gone astray. Death is just a change
of address, remember? You wrote
that a long time ago, and you were right.

No, I can’t give you my new address—
it’s not a place—but when you stand
in the back yard, hose in hand,
watering the last yellow zinnia
that insist on popping up its sunny
head, even if it is October,
listen with your whole heart.

When you sit in the loft with others
and see what shows up as you type,
when you let the words appear,
take good notes. You’ve gotta
whole cheering section here.
I’m just the latest addition.

You did it better than you thought you did.
You’re doing it better than you think you are.
What it? Every it. You always have done.

Yes, it’s fall, the dying season,
not your favorite, though it was mine.
Now, as you walk, inhale the cool.
The heat has finally shifted hemispheres.
Scuff your feet like a little kid through
leaves on the path. Stop, crouch, admire
their fallen state. Soak up golden
gingkos and blushing maples.
Pick up acorns and their jaunty caps
that have separated in the falling.
Relish the crunch of brittle sycamores.

Every leaf is born, lives, dies.
Tuck them into your heart, where
the ebbing summer and I will carry you
through every winter, into every spring.
As one does.

This is no ending, my friend.
Trust me. It’s not.

Georgann Turner on her wedding day, Sept. 26, 1996, with her best gal, Jan Haag

You can hear Jan read this poem here.

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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5 Responses to Advice from a dead best friend

  1. octoberpress2014 says:

    Love this Jan. Thank you.

  2. Dick Tracy says:


  3. Bonnie Flint says:

    Lovely! Your word art is excellent!

  4. Holly says:

    So beautiful. What a reminder! Listen. Pay attention. Love.

  5. Terry Stone says:

    Living, now, in the home where three generations preceded me, I’m surrounded by so many ancestral photographs, each triggering very personal recollections of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, a brother, uncles, aunts. The words in your post capture the essence of what I feel sometimes when I stand in the midst of this very old living room, a place that was once filled with scores of loved ones and voices in jubilant fellowship. At such moments, it can sometimes overwhelm in its nostalgic, sweet silence. The advice given through the eyes of your departed best friend is so comforting, so affirming that merely being here among the memories, things, and dwellings–created by so many beloved hands–has been a sound life-choice. Your friendship with Georgeann was a gift and I am touched that you shared this.

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