When Great Trees Fall

On May 28, 2020, my best friend of 22 years lost her husband, Brian. He was also the father of my son’s best friend, Hunter. He was the brother of Brad. The son of Ron and Vickey. The uncle to nieces and nephews. He was a dear friend to my husband and countless others in our small town. To try and put into words the pain of his passing is not possible at this time. But, God led me to the below poem by the great Maya Angelou. I’m trusting that these beautiful words will help acknowledge the deep pain felt by anyone grieving someone they love, while also offering hope of eventual healing.


When Great Trees Fall

by Maya Angelou


When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.


When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.


When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.


Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold


And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.




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