Ordinary Day Poem/Let Me Hold It While I May

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A while ago, I wrote a post about how we should savor ordinary days. In that post, I mentioned a poem that I had read about this subject but I had not been able to find the poem to give to those who wanted it. Well, it’s amazing what you can find when you clean off your desk and get organized. I know I really need to practice what I preach! So here it is. I am sorry I have tried but can’t find who wrote it.


Let Me Hold You While I May

The day is over. Now I will sleep. It’s been a normal sort of day — common, like a rock along the path. Nothing about it would make one stop suddenly, pick it up and exclaim over it as one might do with a shell or a glistening piece of quartz.

It was just a rock — lying there along my way. But now, knowing that it is about to go from me forever, I hold it in my hand and curiously turn it this way and that — marking it’s shape and texture, weighing it on my palm.

What was it really, this normal day? It was routine mostly. Washing, ironing, a trip to the store, meals, dishes — the common denominators of women’s days. 

It was pleasant here and there: a letter from an old friend, my husband’s telephone call for no reason, a back fence chat with my neighbor, half an hour with a good book and some loud laughs with the children at dinner time.

It was irritating now and then: a sticky ocean of spilled maple syrup, meal time with one greedy child and one finicky one, the arrival of an unexpectedly high bill and a persistent salesman’s theft of fifteen beautiful minutes.

It was deeply joyous at times: the whole house glorified with the strains of the new “Greensleeves” record, our unliterary twelve year old’s first book– begun today, to be finished tomorrow with it’s dedication to –wonder of wonders — his parents, our eight year old and her friend playing dress up — painted and perfumed, scarved and veiled, clattering through the kitchen in spike heels courtesaned innocence.

It was sobering and frightening in some ways: Mom’s waning health and increasing discouragement, the big blow up after dinner about homework and learning to accept responsibility and the guilt that followed my hasty words and the vague, huge uncertainties that drape themselves over us cobweb – like with ten o’clock news from a tense and shattered world.

It was blessed with love throughout: in a pig-shaped breadboard, made and presented to me by our son, in the wave of feeling as I watched our little daughter sleeping in the soft moonlight, her long lashes shadowing her cheek and in an hour alone with my husband at the end of the day.

Just a normal day. A normal day? It’s a Jewel! In time of war, in peril of death, people have dug their hands and faces into the earth and remembered this. In time of sickness and pain, people have buried their faces in pillows and wept for this. In times of loneliness and separation, people have stretched themselves taut and waited for this. In time of hunger, homelessness, want, people have raised boney hands to the skies and stayed alive for this.

Normal day — let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may — for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth or bury my face in the pillow,  or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want more then all the world to return to you, normal day.

Photo By: duncan_idaho_2007


  1. Rachel says

    So great! My days are so ordinary, but right now it’s just what I need. I am glad for the normal in an out of control world.

  2. Jane says

    This is a beatiful poem. I’m so glad you found it. We all need to remember that ordinary days are the best. I’m sitting here with tears running down my cheeks!

  3. Stephanie Hilliard says

    All I can say is…WOW. What a profound post and what a necessary reminder to savor the days as they come. Thanks for posting it.

  4. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Ladies! Could you please address the 4,000,000 WITHOUT POWER on East Coat from Hurricane Irene. My power is projected to be out for four days. A few tips:
    1. REFRIGERATOR: After two hours without power, trash all the meat, cheese, and opened food in your refridgerator in an outside trash can. (You may keep unopened items. Check for the SISS! when taking the lid off after the power comes back on.) Wipe all the moisture out of your fridger and block the door open to prevent mildewing. You may want to put newspapers in it to absorb dampness.
    2. FREEZERS: Don’t open it! ! 1/2 full freeze will be its own ice chest for 24 hours. A full one will be its own ice chest for 48 hours. Shove towels at door bottom to absord any drips. More info later if I discover it. If food remains under 40 degrees less than two hours you can keep it.
    3. WELL WATER: You have no electricity to pump additional water into your home. Do not “flush” the toilet as normal. Flush with a bucket of water, and only when you must. City water doens’t need to be pumped and will be available.
    4. Your HOT WATER HEATER is cooling off. Bathe now while its most comfortable. Consider postponing dirty and yard work if don’t lie cold water baths.
    5. If not raining, open your windows to let the breeze blow through some fresh air. my house smells a little moldly.
    6. Eat from your panty, cold soup, poptarts, cereal, nuts, etc.
    7. Use your grill to cook food.
    Thank you for your consideration.

    • says

      One thing you do need to be careful of the meat in your fridge but the cheese will last a little longer as a matter of fact some people like to set their cheese out for a bit before eating anyway because it helps with the flavor. I would eat the meat products first and then eat the cheese next because it will keep longer. The fruits and veggies will keep fine of course.

      I know everyone one gets tired of me saying it but this is one reason I don’t like to do the cook a whole months worth of meals or freeze all my garden produce but dry it instead. I have had to go with out power too many times in my live and it wastes so much food. Just something to think about in the future.

    • says

      Oh and you can go without a bath for even a week if you need to. If you really have to -take a sailor man’s bath (just wash certain stinky areas).
      You are right too you don’t need to flush your toilet each time.Remember this is an emergency situation. I went 6 months with having to refill my toilet tank each time I flushed it I didn’t have any running water or hot water either. It isn’t fun but is doable.

      If you are grilling your food and need hot water be sure to add a pan of water next to the food to heat if you do need hot water for washing or anything you need hot water for. This way you are not wasting the coals or propane.

    • getforfree says

      For refrigerated items that can be frozen, put them into the freezer while you still have the power.

      Items that might spoil in the fridge— eat them up first.

      Why would you want to trash all the meat from refrigerator? Cook it. Cooked food keeps fine for at least 24 hours after cooking. So you will have some cooked food for the first day.

      It is good to prepare if you know that you will loose your power. Most of the time it happens unexpectedly.

  5. Donna Friend says

    Wow, loved this poem you shared.Gets your attention in a heart squeezing way.We just take way too much for granted & need to be more thankful every day!!

  6. EmilyinGeorgia says

    Your beautiful poem touched my heart! Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts and reminding each of us to be grateful for this day!

  7. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    IRENE UPDATE: Fortunately I had filled my full sized freezer with 4 gallon milk jugs of water which had frozen and helped keep it cold. At 48 hours without poewr it started leaking water out the bottom. I stuffed shammies under it to absorb the drips. At hour 60 I put 16 pounds of ice in two dishpans in there to help. The dish pans will catch additional leaks. My kitchen freezer didn’t leak, but the bottle of water that had formerly been forzen had completely turned to liquid. It turned out to be an excellent indicator of food safety! I’m tossing out all food in the little freezer that can expire rather than risking food poisening.
    GOOD NEWS: Everyone is out walking, talking, biking, playing cards, etc. My neighbor and I saw each other well dressed for the first time in our many year acquaintence. I have a shower at work where I can clean up. Additionally the weather is temperate. Without power I have no home computer but my work had a status line saying we were operational. My utility called the day before the storm, and told me what they were doing to prepare, and steered me to their website for instructions. Next time I will turn the fridger and freezer to very cold before a potentila power outage. Thank you Lord for these blessings and so little loss of life!

  8. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    IRENE UPDATE: Captain’s log, stardate 4 hundred, 34.7/34. Or at least it feels that way. Half of the ice in the freezers melted away so I poured if off and replace it. I also put the frozen milk jugs and soda bottles on the top shelt of the freezer because cold falls and they will cool food beter than from the bottom. Also one of the milk jugs broke and leaked about half its water. Now its proped upside down in the freezer. The 2 liter soda bottles are about indestructtible. I’m going to replace the milk jugs with them soon.
    The scallops in the freezer door felt soft, meaning thawed. How do I know that their temperature is?
    FUNNY: I was washing my hands and the water got hot! I said “Yay! Powers back!” and danced over to the light switch. No power. Second thought “I have a gas water heater. I could have bathed and home and not at work.! So funny, and so nice to feel clean.

    • says

      Sorry Grizzly Bear Mom. I know what you are going through is not fun or a laughing matter but I did have to laugh at your post, especially the part about having a gas heater. Guess I find it so funny because it sounds like something I would do. Hang in there. Just think of the coping skills you are learning. You will never look at electricity (or a nice hot shower) in the same way again. :) :)
      Love your detailed posts too on what you are doing each day – it is teaching us all what to do and in some cases (gas water heater) what not to do. :) :)

      One note on the serious side a little. This winter when if you lose power during an ice storm or something and have no heat I found out one year the small room in my basement where my hot water heater was stayed nice and toasty because there was just enough heat from the pilot light and the hot water heater to keep the edge off of the cold. I had to leave my house because I was going to be without heat for a few days but couldn’t take my plants (some of them were 40 years old and I didn’t want to lose them) with me. I pinched off a couple of starts from each plant and put in a vase to take with me (easier then moving a huge plant) in case the mother plant died and the mother plants I put in my room with the hot water heater. They all lived.

  9. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    1. Store 2 liter bottles of water in your freezer to fill empty space. (Milk jugs crack. Don’t use them) 2 liter bottles also serve as ice packs if the power goes out.
    2. Turn freezer and refrierator to lowest temperatures if power is threatened. Food takes longer to spoil from 0 degrees than 32 degreees.
    3. While preparing, eat the most expensive food in case power outages force you to trash some, it will be the cheapest stuff. 4. Stock up on ready to eat food like granola bars, fruit, cereal in case power in out.
    5. Wash all your dishes, towels, clothes, because you may not be doing laundry again for a while.
    6. Stock up on candles, matches, lighters, flashlights and batteries and store them in a place you can find in the dark. 7. Prepare your storm celler. (Powder rooms are inferior to cellars) Mine has a couch I can sleep on and candles.
    8. If you have a well fill pitchers with water and only flush when necessary and use a bucket to converse water. Power must pump the water to your faucets. City water will remain on.
    9. If you must walk your pet in the storm wear shorts, tshirt, sunglasses to protect your eyes, and a hardhat/football helmet/baseball to protect yourself from falling limbs. Wear flipflips because they dry quickly and you can hold these best on your feet. Hang clothes in the tub to drip dry and wear them damp next time you walk your pet to minimize wet laundry.
    10. Of course now that I’ve figured it all out the power company say my electric is on. We’ll see when I get home. What delcious yummies will I make tonight, toast and soup?
    11. I used to be stationed in Korea where it was so cold I put water on to boil while I washed my hair with 32 degree tap water in my icicle ceilinged bathrooom! It was so cold it was painful but it woke me at at 4:30 AM! Than I would pour the boiling water in with what I’d already used to bathe. For years afterword I thanked God when hot water just came out of the tap. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful Lord!

  10. says

    what I wouldn’t give to have an ordinary day.
    it would be nice to not unexpectedly be stuck in the basement for hours because I can’t make it up the stairs or be out walking and not have to stop and stand or try to find a place to sit while my back takes a break.
    It would be nice to have ordinary problems that you know you can work around or fix with a bit of a think or a bit of action.
    So bless the ordinary days and learn to live with the unordinary even if the unordinary become the ordinary. Such is life so what can you do.

  11. Karlyn says

    What a wonderful poem. I try to be happy during the everyday things that happen, the good and the bad, but too often I get too caught up in the moment and just wish it away. Thanks so much!

  12. Veronica Tidd says

    I know Irene is far behind us but in future emergency preparedness is the name of the game.
    Designate a warm room that can be enclosed and used for everything.
    Have an alternate heat source and a small propane stove.
    Stock the pantry with cans, dried goods, powered milk etc and most importantly drinking water.
    Fill the bath tub with water.
    If you can afford it buy a generator, especially important if you have well water and farm animals. Even a small one can keep your fridge and freezer safe. Keep your car full and have spare gas cans.
    Jill is correct bathing is optional, top and tail is the way to go but keep a good supply of underwear for all family members.
    I keep a magnetic flashlight on the fridge.
    Make sure you always have a 7 day supply of medications in the house.
    Warm clothes are essential for winter emergencies plus waterproof outerwear.
    If you are of a survivalist mindset prepare a 72 hour pack ready close to the door.
    There are lots of other things that can be helpfull and there is plenty of advice on the web. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy kits or expensive prepared meals, just a little planning can get the job done.
    Some entertainment for the kids and adults is a necesity,such as books and games. Don’t forget a battery operated radio and the charger for your cell phone to use in the car

  13. Maggie says

    I was rereading this post tonight and thought about my recent hospital stay. I was very ill and my thoughts were that I was so very tired of being sick and wishing for an ordinary day. I even told my nurse that we take our everyday life for granted and there is nothing better than getting up for work, doing what we do, making a dinner and watching a little TV and going to be for another similar day. When you are sick, nothing is ordinary and it is just a struggle to get up and get to the bathroom to brush your teeth. I am on the mend now and just read this poem again. Everyday, ordinary days have a new meaning for me now. I aim to appreciate them more.

  14. harriet says

    I’m feeling super-stressed lately because of my CFS. My house is cluttered and needs a lot of going through and I just barely have the energy to do my day to day cleaning, cooking, etc. I just get so frustrated because I simply can’t do what I want to do.

    • says

      Here are several articles on dealing with cfs and the same thing you are going through which might help not just in practical ways but how to deal with the stress in more detail then what I have the space or energy (since I have cfs too) here. :)

      It is hard, it is frustrating and you can’t do much I know and I fought it all the way trying to keep my house like I did before CFS and do all I did until one day I finally had to accept this was my new way of life and started learning what I had to do and couldn’t do when it came to living with it. Like I said the articles really explain it all including the discouragement that goes with it. Tawra and I both still have days where we get discouraged and are so exhausted. I talked to her a few minutes ago and she was down on the couch. Please read them if you can. I think they might help you and maybe be encouraging to you. There are several on the first page and continue to some of the older entries too if you can.

      To let you know how much I understand I was so excited this morning I told Tawra I went to bed and fell right to sleep. I haven’t done that for over 20 years since I have been sick.

  15. Maggie says

    Harriet, I have health issues,too, and have been very frustrated at my ability or lack of, in trying to declutter and get my house in order. I found a wonderful website called 365Less written by Colleen Madson from Australia. She recommends only tossing/donating ONE thing per day. Hence the 365Less. At the end of a year you will have gotten rid of 365 things. Some things will be big, some small, but I have found that it takes some of the stress off my brain. I am doing something even though small and it is amazing how much better I feel. Jill and Tawra also talk about cleaning out a drawer when you have 5 min or straightening up a counter when cooking. I have found that these few minutes do make a difference. 5 min on a timer gives you way more time than you think and you can accomplish a lot in 5 min. Harriet, if you try some of these things you will be on your way to relieving some of your stress. But when you are sick, everything seems worse. I lay on the sofa and look around and think, Oh my goodness, this will never get done. Sometimes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t matter. Othertimes, take the 5 minutes when you can and you can begin to make progress. Hope this helps.

    • says

      Maggie is so right Harriet. Here is our article on Clean and Organize in 5 Minutes at the bottom of this article are a few more along the same line you can look at. When I first got sick I was almost completely bedridden with no on at all to help not even my kids although they tried but they were sick too. I had gotten to the point where I was either totally down or if I feel even a little better I would kill myself over doing and make things worse. That was when I started doing only what I could do during a TV commercial. I didn’t over do but I did get an amazing amount done in 5 mins.That is part of the pacing thing I was talking about.

  16. Sandi P says

    This is a good article to re-read right now. We finally gave up on killing ourselves trying to keep our business going. My DH just turned 62, and with health issues and a failing business, we’ve retired. Sort of. Turns out you can’t live on retirement. Not when you’ve already spent your life savings trying to stay in business. If I’d only known then what I know now. . . .
    Now, though, it’s not all bad. We’ve moved to the High Desert to be near our grandkids, and are renting a house and hangar for less than half our former rent (apartment and hangar). DH is still doing odd jobs on aircraft to make some extra money, and the rent itself is covered by the social security. Or was. Just found out the IRS is attaching the social security for past bills. It’s actually not much, but just enough to make it less than the rent. We will cope, though. I’m negotiating with them now to show we can’t afford it, and they are being surprisingly reasonable. We owe so many bills from the business, but we are trying to pay everyone back a little at a time. We don’t have our health (or insurance), but we are alive and coping. And the grandkids just gave us the cutest talking card for Grandparents Day. Life is good.

  17. Bea says

    Jill, I was in a CVS drug store about an hour and a half ago that was ROBBED. Thank God he didn’t use a weapon. Don’t know if he had one or not. There was a man with a black knit cap on, that walked into the drugstore ahead of me. I didn’t have a good feeling about him. There was NO NEED to wear a cap like that in the summer. He went to a aisle one over from the one I went to. He took one of those store hand baskets and filled it up with men things like expensive razors etc and then ran out of the store to his car. Women that saw him do that screamed. Someone outside got his license number and gave it to the police when they came. NOT AN ORDINARY DAY!!!

    • says

      I guess it wasn’t an Ordinary Day at that. That could be a little hair raising to say the least. Did you have to stay until the police came to talk to them? I always wondered how I would react in a case like that. I imagine sometimes it happens so fast you can’t react until afterwards. Anyway I am so glad you are ok and no one got hurt, that is the main thing.

  18. Bea says

    Well, Since the manager (Male) and 2 women cashiers saw him the police just interviewed them. Then the police went over to the area that was robbed and took a little inventory of what was stolen. Since someone outside saw him run away and got the license number they probably got him. Its so sad what people will do for money. The other people in the store said he was probably going to sell the stuff he stole for money since he took expensive things. The weird thing about it is I KNEW inside just by looking at him that he might rob the store but I felt at peace and went into the store anyway. I’m THANKFUL to God that nobody got hurt. He may have had a gun he might have used if he had to. It did shake my up a bit. Just trust your instincts Jill when you see suspicious people. I had to go over to ALDIS after that and was still shook up. Aldis is a few blocks away.

    • says

      That is so true Bea. We need to learn to trust our instincts more. What some people don’t realize is the more you learn to trust your instincts and use them the better they get just like any other skill. Still am glad it wasn’t worse.

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