Stafford died of a heart attack in Lake Oswego on August 28, 1993. That morning he wrote a poem that contained the lines, "'You don't have to / prove anything,' my mother said. 'Just be ready / for what God sends.'" He shows us something about what that means in his poem, "The Way It Is."
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.