At a Restaurant the Night my Son Died

by Chanel Brenner

I sat across from him,

shooting his portrait with my phone.


His charcoal sweatshirt fadedmy son died AfterTalk Grief support

into the dark booth.


He played tic-tac-toe

in the dim light.


I should have known

something was wrong,


when he scribbled his X’s and O’s

like a toddler—


should have known

his brain’s weak vessels


were bleeding again.

Should have put down the phone


and looked him in the eye.

Should have noticed


his half-eaten ice cream

melting in the bowl.

At a Restaurant the Night my Son Died first appeared in Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

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Every Thursday we publish “AfterTalk Inspirational.” We invite readers to submit their own poem, essay, or suggestions for inspirational quotes for publication. If you are a therapist you are welcome to extend this invitation to your clients as well. Please send your submission to

1 thought on “At a Restaurant the Night my Son Died”

  1. This hit me in the gut. We always feel like it’s our fault when our child dies…even when it’s not.

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