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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

For Hal on His Birthday

If you are a close friend of mine you know that I lost my husband on May 2. He passed away from heart failure. His heart just stopped. For those of you following my blog this year you know too that he had pneumonia six times in four months and he kept getting weaker. The doctors did all they could to save him, but he wasn't able to rally. I have been in mourning all this time and I would not be posting now if not for the fact that today was his birthday and it was my usual custom to write him a birthday poem. So here it is:

Birthday Cake in Heaven - For Hal on what would have been his birthday

Today was your birthday
and you were not here to
though if you had been here
you would probably have said
no I don’t want cake for you
were not one for birthdays
It was always I who splurged
and went big on birthdays
decorating your chair and 
having a birthday morning
with presents and soft kisses
with your favorite breakfast
food in front of you
and as you ate your eggs
and read your cards we waited
for your smile for that was our
goal when we were around you
That smile healed all and we 
cherished it when it came
and at night the usual cake 
with the Happy Birthday words
and again your smile as you
accepted a piece and we knew
although you protested your
smile showed how much it
mattered to you
Now I wonder, are you having
birthday cake in heaven?
Are you making friends or
did you meet your parents
and is your mother smiling at
you as you shovel in the last
bite of cake?

copyright 2014 by Barbara Ehrentreu

I want to thank anyone who posted anything to help me get through those horrible first days. Specifically, Pearl Ketover Prilik who started a page called Virtual Shiva for Harold Ehrentreu. There I found beautiful photos of food and places and poems and words of sympathy. People came and virtually sat with me and held my hand over the internet. There are no words to express how comforting this was. I met some new people who were generous and sweet. 

There is a deep hole of sadness inside me and I imagine it will remain there for a long time, but I am starting to get back into the world again. My husband wanted us to start living life as soon as possible. He was a confirmed atheist and didn't believe in organized religion at all. He lived life on his own terms and we hope to bring his ashes to the sea when the weather permits. 

I don't know when I will post again, but until the next time, I hope you are all enjoying the spring weather. 


  1. Tears in my eyes... Your poem is beautiful, Barbara, and the Hal portrayed is beautiful too... Somehow, as I read your words, I can see him smile somewhere, in the universe of souls...

    1. Thank you so much. I hope so. He was so unhappy for so long and I hope now he has found peace.

  2. This is just beautiful, Barbara. My mama-in-love, Tish, whom we called "Nona," was one of the best bakers ever. I would like to this she hooked Hal up with a delicious confection today.

    You are continually in my prayers in the days ahead.


    1. De, I certainly hope so and thank you so much!! <3

  3. Dear Barbara -

    It might have been hard to
    coax a smile from you while
    you were here - even with
    birthday breakfast and pretty
    cards and daughters and cake
    but now
    on this
    I see

    Happy Birthday to Hal and Happy remembering Hal's birthday to you Barbara - a beautiful poem and time is moving you along a new path .... With love - pearl...

    1. Pearl that was the thing. He smiled a lot and always when he saw me. Lately though he wasn't smiling as much since he was so sick. But it wasn't hard to get a smile from him. He was a person who loved to joke and kid around all the time with people. Thank you for the return poem, though. You are a special person you know.

  4. You are sweet, even if the midst of such a very difficult time. All my love to you <3

  5. An inspired poem for this day bet (as an agnostic thinking about an atheist) is that Hal is smiling from the great collective consciousness, or whatever it is we return to, and cherishing his cake, and his life, but mostly his love for you and your daughters. Nicely done.

    1. Thank you, Sharon! I hope so too and his companions are all his heroes and some historical figures. He always loved history.

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you Rosemary. Soon we should get together and talk. ❤️

  7. what a great idea to continue this tradition of writing a poem. Not only does it honor Hals memory, but I think it is also healing for you.

    1. This was totally unexpected. I didn't think I could do it this year, but it is always good to get out your feelings and my discussion with my friend brought this up. As a writer you know that once something pops into your head it only builds. So this is the result. Thank you.

  8. A beautiful tribute to your husband. Much love to you as you heal.

    1. Thank you, Katie. Yes, it takes a long time to heal, but I'm taking it a day at a time.

  9. I know your heart is breaking with the loss of Hal, but pouring out these heartfelt words on paper must be comforting for you when you see him smile in his birthday poem. So happy you have wonderful memories to fall back on with this great guy. Hugs across the miles. Keeping you in my prayers.

  10. Janet, it has been rough, but I have my two daughters with me and I have learned to be without him since he was ill for so long. I miss him every day and wish he were here with me, but I know he wouldn't want me to be in mourning for too long. I am gradually getting out and starting to work a little on my writing. Sometimes the memories become too much and it's hard. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting.


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