This is by Edgar Guest (1881-1959). I came across it this week and thought I would share.
There was another similar story I heard told on a radio program that always stuck with me:
A woman meets her husband at the door upon his arrival home from a trip. She asked him, “If a wealthy man asked us to keep his treasure safe until his return, would we be angry at him for taking the treasure back upon his return?” “Of course not,” the man answered. She then took her husband into their son’s room where he lay in state. He had died suddenly in his sleep. “I understand,” said the father.
This poem speaks to the same loss and sense of gratitude for the gift of our children.
I’ll Lend You A Child by Edgar Guest
“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine, he said.”
For you to love – while he lives,
and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years,
or twenty-two or three, but will you,
till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He’ll bring his smiles to gladden you,
and should this stay be brief.
You’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked this world over
in search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love,
nor count the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come
to call to take him back again?”
I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness;
we’ll love him while we may.
And for the happiness we’ve known
forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him
much sooner than we’ve planned.
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.”