Virtual Voices

Next of kin

Faith & Inspiration

Tina Turpin's husband has a job. He notifies "next of kin" (NOK) of the deaths of their loved ones in uniform. Anyone who has seen Saving Private Ryan knows the hardest part of Steven Spielberg's World War II film is the shot from behind of the widowed Mrs. Ryan crumbling with dignity to the floor of her front porch at the approach to her farmhouse of a chaplain and military officer.

Mrs. Turpin's husband's line of work prompted this poem from her (reprinted here with her permission):

Her World Stops Today

No

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Don't open the door.

I cannot straighten the silver cross over his left pocket

My hands tremble, knowing the message he carries.

"It's okay, my jacket will cover. . . ."

No

It is crooked

I do not know her name.

Only, there are children.

Three.

One is a baby.

Is she holding him now?

Has she made him breakfast?

Is she driving, cooking, talking on the phone,

To his mother perhaps.

I do not know her,

But I know what she dreads.

No

Not that knock

Not my door.

Please don't open it, don't be home

For just a little while longer.

God, let the children grow up

With Daddy.

Let her rest on his chest one more time.

No

Now she probably weeps in my husband's arms,

Tears and cheek resting on that crooked cross.

No. No. No.

Please God don't make her,

Don't make me

Open

That door.

I was thinking that if Mr. Turpin has such courage to deliver bad news, why don't I have more courage to deliver good news?

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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