If Only, I and II
by Nicoletta LaMarca Sacco

If only he . . .

My best friendís father died when she was five.
We had met in fourth grade, assigned seats at adjacent desks

Her dadís bright future suddenly gone
His pretty, capable wife, four kids carried on

Beloved rabbits with championís ribbons; so much laughter
Music, shared secrets, sleepovers; lonely at times despite a house full

I was welcome at their table every holiday
Or just because the bus was late

Their father would be proud
If only he were here

If only she

My husbandís mother died when he was just a boy
He had cared for her, despite frequently moving mid-year

Crushed, he bore the weight of grief so young, the loss
of the one who would have encouraged and soothed him

Nothing I do, Iím aware
Helps cherish the memories I could not share

To quell the curiosity
about how things might be today

If only she had stayed
As many, but not all, mothers do.

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