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When I Fall: A Poem

Chris has written poetry for 28 years though he focuses on short fiction. But watch out for the occasional twisted nursery rhyme.

What Do We Really Know for Certain?


Sometimes I contemplate death. When I do, my mind often runs to that scene in the film, What About Bob, when Sigmund, Dr. Leo Marvin's son, comes to terms with life and says...Why don't I just let you watch the clip? It's 58 seconds of child actor, Charlie Korsmo, giving it his all.

(58 Seconds) Siggy Marvin Talks About Death in the Film, What About Bob

Death, the Afterlife, and Certainty

Yes, I am beginning this article with a little humor. My thoughts from here on are dead serious. No one really knows what comes after death. Some are certain they know whether by direct revelation or by indirect revelation contained in a book.

But we really don't know. I will keep searching with you. It would be my great joy to walk with you one day on the other side. But that is not for us to decide, is it?

Seven Spanish Angels: Ray Charles and Willie Nelson

Author's Note

I'm introducing my poem about death with this song because it highlights how easily and quickly life can end. Here is a synopsis of the lyrics which I have borrowed from the Wikipedia article about the song.

The song is about an outlaw and his lover who are trying to outrun a posse sent to return them to Texas. When they are cornered, they decide to fight the approaching lawmen. Before the final gunfight, the two embrace, speaking of their belief that God will spare them. The gunfight then commences, with the outlaw firing upon the posse. He is immediately shot and killed, prompting his distraught lover to pick up his rifle. She tearfully prays, "Father, please forgive me; I can't make it without my man." She deliberately points the empty weapon at the lawmen and is then shot dead. After each death, the angels gather to pray for the lovers. This is followed by "thunder from the throne" and the angels "taking another angel home"

Listen to Willie's gracious introduction. A week earlier, the new song had been pitched to him. He accepted and made plans for recording. A record producer heard the demo and suggested Ray Charles do it. When he discovered that Willie was already working on it, he recommended a duet between Willie and Ray. The two performers agreed. The song was recorded as a duet and released in November of 1984. It won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year.

Here are a few rambling words of my own about the end of life which we all face. The subject begs humility because we really know so little.


When I Fall

Where will I fall?


At whose hand?




My own?

Unknown future







Almighty God


Empty void?




For sure.

So I proceed


Open arms.




My cup.


Poll: Certainty About Life After Death

© 2019 Chris Mills


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 09, 2020:

Loved your introduction to this poem.

The video with Bob was awesome.

I guess no one really knows, but it would be nice if someone would return to let us know for sure.

Nice writing.

Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 25, 2019:

Yes, sometimes, we are too crazy in thinking, what is life after death?

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on August 20, 2019:

You both do such good work for this world which is in need, my dear brother Bill! You do it here and now, and that's the important thing. The "after" will show its "goods" when it's time!

Grateful for you both!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 20, 2019:

It's a fascinating topic, isn't it? I'm amazed how some people are so certain that they know? I guess that's called faith and I guess I don't have it. To my way of thinking, either nothing happens or something happens, and we'll find out when we get there. In the meantime, I have my hands full just trying to be the best version of me I can be. :)

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on August 08, 2019:

Shauna, thanks for visiting. It's just another exciting point in the adventure of life.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 08, 2019:

I love this piece, Chris. What happens after we die? We won't know until we cross that road. I just wish someone who has would come down and fill us in.

Love the video and the story behind the melody.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 30, 2019:

Hi, Genna. Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I read your lovely post, but somehow got distracted. You say things so well..."In the garden before the fall." Thank you.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 21, 2019:

Hi Chris...

I was blessed to have two experiences in my lifetime that taught me there is a spiritual continuing of the love of a person who has left this earthly plane. I won't get into it, but I believe the love in those we knew waits for us on the "other side," whatever that may be.

I very much liked your poem, Chris.

How soon will we run...how far and how long?

No one can tell us the last of the when,

This sweet being...this desire of us.

We only know what is

In the garden before the fall.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 19, 2019:

Rasma, thank you for that comment. It's what we all want. I look forward to the experience.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 19, 2019:

Wonderful poetry. I agree with what one friend always said - when you come to your final days you don't have to worry there will be someone reaching out a hand to you pulling you to the other side.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 18, 2019:

Chris, I feel so sad reading your poem, but I agree with Dora.

When I was asked if I wanted to stop at my husband's grave not long ago,


“He is not there”

I said not because it does not seem real, he is not there,

Must I lay me down and die because I still care and he is not there?

Must I cry because I laughed today?

Must I suppress any feeling I have for another, when he is not there?

Because he went away, and I still care, but he is not there

Must I feel guilty for fear of what others may say?


Blessings my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

I like your thought, Dora. "It's the certainty of the uncertainty that helps us accept the reality of death." That is very true. We can't stop it. We must accept it with all the uncertainty it holds. Thank you.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 18, 2019:

Its the certainty of the uncertainty that helps us accept the reality of death. Its healthy to think and talk about it sometimes. I appreciate the conversation, both the questions and the resolution in your poem. Thanks.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

Thank you Pamela.This is a tough subject to write on. So many people have beliefs they have become comfortable with. I get that. But I also want to challenge people to think through what they believe. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts. You are a true friend here on HP.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 18, 2019:

I listened to the song and read your poem, and I agree that no one knows for sure when they will leave this earth or what happens next. I have been a Christian for many years and life was better after I came to believe, but having said that, of course, no one knows for sure.

I hope I go to heaven and see all my loved ones that are already gone. I just lost my mother about 3 weeks ago, so that grief is fresh. I think she no longer has pain or tears, and that gives me peace. Your very good article, poem and the music all make us think about that final day.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

Thank you, Ruby. I was afraid I would offend an old friend. I'm glad that is not the case.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 18, 2019:

Chris, when I said to follow bible teaching, I didn't mean the old bible, talk about cruelty, some of the leaders were unholy and mean. Jesus taught love and forgiveness. We are all sinful because we are humans, but we try to do good. I understand where you're coming from and I agree.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

Ruby, you know I love it when you visit. You are one of my oldest friends here. But I must say, by experience, following the teachings of the Bible is a cherry-picking expedition. There are some parts that should be left on the scrap heap of history. Here is just one. Genocide in Canaan: Joshua 6:21 "They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, YOUNG and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." That was what God told "His people" to do. They killed children, unborn, pregnant mothers. Sorry, I'm not going that way. Sure, I can go along with the golden rule, but I am cautious about anything in the Bible. It is loaded with bad stuff when we are willing to look deeper.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 18, 2019:

Of course no one knows for sure, but we are hopeful. I want to see my loved ones in heaven, I have so many. I do believe that God formed this world. I do believe we have evolved. There are so many beliefs and churches, it's confusing. If we follow the teachings in the bible and love one another, how could that be wrong? I liked your poem. Your thoughts are like mine.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

Sean, Ioannis, my dear friend, you said some very special things in that post. I do not know what I am doing. I just plod through this life and help as many people as I can. Thank you.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 18, 2019:

Eric, I'll check it out.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 18, 2019:

Hey Chris I note your current local. Check out the old courthouse for "Texas Ranger". I think only criminal matters now but it is really cool to visit. (leave you peashooter in the car they do not like weapons in there ;-)

Audrey Howitt from California on July 17, 2019:

You raise interesting questions. Well done!

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on July 17, 2019:

My dear brother, I have expressed my beliefs about the afterlife at my story "Is There Life Before Death?" and of course, at the story that I wrote for you. I have my proofs, but they are precisely mine. Everybody has to find his way back Home or nowhere! I still insist though that we have to do our best now, in this life, because this is what we have for sure. We have to give Love, unconditional Love, to as many beings we can! Then, sometime, we will know or not, but if we do so, we'll have one more life, at least, to live in the hearts of the people we loved and helped!

Peace always!


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2019:

Eric, In the military, they still have this quote in some creeds..."Leave no fallen comrade." I think your sons would drag you out of there no matter what stood in their way. But I get your message.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2019:

Ann, thanks for reading my poem with a discerning eye. I challenge dogmatic statements and certainty when it comes to the afterlife. We all have the same information to work with. We have no information that has come back from the other side. Therefore, we do not know anything for certain. If we are ready to accept whatever comes, we will be at peace.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2019:

Liz, If we focus on living fully now and accepting whatever is coming, we will be happy. But it is important to be free from fear.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2019:

Venkatachari M, I appreciate your thoughts here. There is a smorgasbord of ideas about the afterlife. We can take our pick for now. But someday, what will be will be. That's why I stressed the open arms approach. Acceptance brings peace.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 17, 2019:

Thanks, John. We do need to ask the questions so that we can arrive at a place of peace with the future. If we take the time, we won't be afraid.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 17, 2019:

Well Chris, if someone does not love this song, then I figure they need wisdom teeth pulled and replaced with dummy teeth. I always wonder about folks who think souls die. Curious to me.

We know I will fall and die on a cliff, my boys are ordered not to risk a life carrying me out. Let my soul be free and leave my body where it be.

Most excellent my friend. I am finding a little peace with this one.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 17, 2019:

I like to think there's something after life, something peaceful and soothing. We don't know, of course; sometimes I believe there is, sometimes I'm cynical. Some personal experiences lead me to believe there is, but then the mind plays tricks doesn't it?

You've provoked many thoughts and your piece gives us many angles from which to view death. I particularly like the way your last verse challenges but accepts whatever it may be.


Liz Westwood from UK on July 17, 2019:

You have bravely tackled the big question that hangs over us all. Whatever happens in life, death is something none of us can escape. As one person I know said "It's not a date you can put in your diary". The question of what happens after death is one that many prefer to avoid.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 17, 2019:

An interesting topic. "Death: A Silent Stealthy Attacker". That was my article when my wife was dead that I published on my blog during December 2012.

Your poem is very good asking or hinting at all those possibilities of the occurrence and aftermath of Death. The short video above of that boy with his father is very wonderful.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 16, 2019:

I love your introduction, and death is something we all have to think about at some time. Your poem, though short, asks all the questions. Good work, Chris.

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