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#8 – How Many Breaths?

By on Jan 8, 2014 in Blog, Resources | 2 comments

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I’m not a poet. But I wrote this very rough poem about my dad’s last night here on Earth, which was exactly one year ago tonight. To understand it fully, reading my blog on Day 5 about my time of confession and reunion with my dad would be beneficial. I wrote this just a few weeks after he died, and so it’s as rough as my emotions were at the time.

How many breaths did you take Daddy,

That last night?

It didn’t occur to me to count them,

I just stood by your side.

As I look back on that night,

Wondering how many breaths you took,

I wonder a lot of how many’s.

How many miles did you drive in your big rig,

Down that long lonely highway?

How many times did you think of me

While you were away?

How many regrets crossed your mind

As you drove on alone?

How many cigarettes did you smoke?

How many times did you say, “This is the last one”?

How many tears did you wipe from my eyes,

As I cried on your shoulder?

How many times did you say, “I don’t know?”

When I asked, “When will my life be normal?”

How many times did you pray?

Did you even pray at all?

How many bills did you pay?

How many were because of me?

As your breaths began to slow, I wondered

Will this be your last?

How many times did I say goodbye that night,

And I love you so much?

How many times did you circle the lake,

Pulling me around on a water ski?

How many pushups and situps did you do,

To show us you could still ski too?

How many diapers did you change?


How many turkeys did you carve?

How many tomatoes did you stew?

How many tolls did you pay?

How many nails did you hammer?

So many memories,

So many questions.

Some are small,

Some quite tall.

How many times did you forgive?

How many times were you forgiven?

I know you forgave me,

Thank you Daddy!

You nodded yes that day to say

You do know Jesus,

Why didn’t you ever talk about Him?

Even still, you lived your life

Louder than words could testify.

My yes to Jesus was easy

So many years ago,

Because of your sacrifice for me.

Thank you Daddy!

How many times will I think of you

And begin to cry?

How many times will I remember

That you are now with family in the sky?

How many times will I remember,

The site of you holding my babies?

My babies here on earth,

And now,

My babies in the sky?

How many times did you say yes?

How many times did you say no?

Thank you Daddy,

For saying no when it truly mattered.

Thank you for saving my life Daddy,

I will never forget.

Your life is now normal and eternal,

As God meant it to be.

No more tears, no more goodbyes,

No more regrets, no more I’m sorry’s,

No more taxes to pay, no more leaves to rake.

How many times will I think of you

And smile,

Before I meet you in the sky?


  1. Mikey

    January 8, 2014

    Joined On Earth – JOE
    Having been there at your side
    as we all stood and cried at his bed side
    I wondered why he died
    Was it his time
    or was it so they could save a dime.
    I was angry for our loss
    I still feel that loss
    as I lay in bed and toss
    I feel your pain Donna Jane
    We are the same and there is no blame
    I love you so as you know
    we let him go his name is forever Joe


    • Donna Brendel

      January 8, 2014

      I didn’t know you were a poet Mikey. It’s beautiful!! Thank you for sharing it with me :) Thank you for being such a rock solid yet gentle teddy bear of a brother and son that night! Love you, like you, miss you!!! <3

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