“Please G-d I’m Only 17” was written by Dr. Michael Lee Poling when he was child in memory of his deceased friend Jimmy Rowe. When I was 14, my friend Sue shared it with me and it has remained a part of my memory. While doing some spring cleaning this past weekend, I found an old journal and in it was this incredible poem.
My oldest son is approaching driving age and his younger brother is not far behind. Dr. Polling’s words helped me use some caution as a driver so I thought I would share it with both of them. And then I remembered all of my friends and their soon-to-be-driving children. The list of who I wanted to read this grew and grew.
The lasting impression the poem had on me made perfect sense when I read it for the first time in many, many years.
In my work as a medium, I meet the nicest, most beautiful people. Some of them schedule appointments and come to my office for a reading. And some of them are on the other side. What strikes me now is that the words in this poem echo the words I frequently hear from those in spirit who died at a young age.
Spring is my favorite time of year. It is so full of promise and so lovely. It has been known to cause spring fever however, and that of course can bring on fast driving for those of all ages! My hope in including Dr. Michael Lee Poling’s moving poem in my blog is not to cause fear but to ignite caution.
PLEASE GOD, I’M ONLY 17 by Dr. Michael Lee Poling
The day I died was an ordinary school day. How I wish I had taken the bus. But I was too cool for the bus. I remember how I wheedled the car out of Mom. “Special favor,” I pleaded. “All the kids drive.”
When the 2:50 bell rang, I threw all my books in the locker. I was free until 8:40 tomorrow morning! I ran to the parking lot, excited at the thought of driving a car and being my own boss. Free!
It doesn’t matter how the accident happened. I was goofing off — going too fast — taking crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard the deafening crash and felt a terrible jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be turning inside out. I heard myself scream.
Suddenly I awakened; it was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. Then I saw a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were sticking out all over. Strange that I couldn’t feel anything.
Hey, don’t pull that sheet over my head! I can’t be dead. I’m only 17. I’ve got a date tonight. I’m supposed to grow up and have a wonderful life. I haven’t lived yet. I can’t be dead!
Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks had to identify me. Why did they have to see me like this? Why did I have to look at Mom’s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life? Dad suddenly looked like an old man. He told the man in charge, “Yes, he is my son.”
The funeral was a weird experience. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. Some of my buddies were crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked away.
Please — somebody — wake me up! Get me out of here! I can’t bear to see my mom and dad so broken up. My grandparents are so racked with grief they can hardly walk. My brothers and sisters are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze, everybody. No one can believe this. And I can’t believe it, either.
Please don’t bury me! I’m not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run again. I want to sing and dance. Please don’t put me in the ground. I promise if you give me one more chance, God, I’ll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is one more chance!
Please, God, I’m only 17!