POEM: Death Unexplained [Ode to Harry Gavin]

Our youngest grandchild (Maryjo’s son’s son), Harry Gavin, 7-months-old, feel asleep and never woke up. Below is his obituary; followed by a poem I wrote for our family and loved ones.

Harold Patrick Gavin, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on Thursday, March 23, 2023. He was born at Toledo Hospital on August 11, 2022, to his adoring parents, Melissa May (Malinowski) Gavin and John Connor Gavin. From the beginning, Harry was larger than life, weighing an astounding 11 lbs 14 oz at birth. He was a happy baby who loved being with his family. He especially loved his older brother, Jack. They were best friends and shared a bedroom Harry’s entire life. They would stay up far past their bedtime, long into the night, laughing at only God knows what. Harry’s laughter and smile were infectious.

Other activities Harry enjoyed were family dinners, family walks in the park, playing with his two dogs, Foster, and Joey, bouncing in his bouncy chair, and dancing to Danny Go songs. He loved going to day care and spending time with the other children there.  In addition, Harry loved spending time with his extended family, especially his cousins. He attended family vacations to Edisto Island, South Carolina, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Though Harry’s life was brief, his impact on others was immeasurable. His family is devastated at the loss of their little boy. At the same time, they are so grateful to God that they were blessed with Harry’s presence for the time they had. Despite their heartbreak, his family would not trade this experience for anything.

Harry is preceded in death by several great grandparents, and his grandfathers; John Christopher Gavin and Kenneth Harry Malinowski.  Harry is survived by his mother and father, Connor and Melissa, his older brother, Jack; his grandparents; Terry and Jenniffer Drinkwater, Dan Rutt and Maryjo Gavin; his aunt, Kristie and uncle Carl; his uncle Josh, his aunt Kara and uncle Joe; his cousins, Graham, Richie, Lulu, and Iggy, and countless other extended family.


I wrote this poem within 48 hours of Harry’s death.  In such times, words flail us.

Death Unexplained

Those many moments strung out
The only thing worse than death unexplained
Is death explained
In a heart RIP’ed
Caught in the wake
Of eternal sleep
Helled in the vacuum
Of death sucking
And everything ails
Each mourning
Taking one step
Then another
And another
Then returning
To that first step
A grave dance
In an after ours club
A missed
The dead of the night
Noon daze
Absent the warmth of a son
After words
Awe that has poured out of us
What can a broken heart hold for us?
What is it that death cannot touch?
Sacred plays
Wear life is knit together
Before we were borne
Or wherever we go
After that role of the die
In the echo of hollowed preyer
Where God is riddled
And a lot of life is runed
And sow much is knot
To ax the quest in
A bout God’s Jōb
And what is there too due
With life a loan
Life lived with abandon
Would God rejoin
Just us
And not
Another crux
The weigh of death and life
And all that it would take
To leave the wrest
For all one no’s
God gently counters
With that which is wholly
Surrounded by loved wons
Serendipitously moving
Still, we here
That bell
Which only unimaginably could be
As an angel getting his wings


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