Thursday, December 5, 2013

The First Snowfall

Reading this poem today with my AP Lang/American Lit students and I was astounded at how perfectly this poem speaks to me. (Poor James Russell Lowell; he buried three children. I can't even imagine--don't want to.)
The healing that comes from the Lord, from the seasons/passage of time, and from my darling baby girl: this healing is undeniable, and although the pain is still there--the scars still remain--I have found so much joy with sweet Georgia Louise at my side.  In her eyes, I am not a mother who longs for a lost child.  I'm just Mommy.  And God, in His infinite mercy, sent me the most precious little girl to help temper the pain I feel at the thought of the little mound and headstone in Marietta that mark the grave of my William.
Georgia loves her mommy with wild, total abandon--sometimes it feels like she loves me with a strength and conviction that surpasses that of just one child. I will always miss my Will.  I will always miss what I lost on May 2nd, 2009.  But the joy that I have found in the wake of that pain is so intense and so sublime that I have to acknowledge how truly blessed I am.

"The First Snowfall"        by James Russell Lowell
THE SNOW had begun in the gloaming,
  And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
  With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hemlock        5
  Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
  Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
  Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow,        10
The stiff rails softened to swan’s-down,
  And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the window
  The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,        15
  Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
  Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
  As did robins the babes in the wood.        20
Up spoke our own little Mabel,
  Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?”
And I told of the good All-father
  Who cares for us here below.
Again I looked at the snow-fall,        25
  And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o’er our first great sorrow,
  When that mound was heaped so high.
I remembered the gradual patience
  That fell from that cloud like snow,        30
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
  The scar that renewed our woe.
And again to the child I whispered,
  “The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father        35
  Alone can make it fall!”
Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
  And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her [brother],
  Folded close under deepening snow.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What I've Lost

“And it was think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and for the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell...for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you were. All your grief hasn't changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You're left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is to go on or not. But if you go on, it's knowing you carry your scars with you.”

― Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain   What a struggle it is, this push and pull of my heart:  move on, look back, move on, look back...   I can't go back and change anything.  I know I can't. Why would I? I'm not blind. I'm not a fool. I am so blessed.  I can see my blessings; they are assembled right here--before my very eyes.  I feel terrible even mentioning this sensation...this unsettling throb of regret.  But still it's here, pulsing deep inside of me.  I miss him.  And I miss him.  And I can keep on going with this grief, but I'm still where I am.  And he's still where he is.     What I have lost will never be returned to me.  It will always be lost.  Even so..I have more than scars left to mark the void. I have smiles.  I have giggles.  I have hugs and kisses. I have "Good morning" and "Sleep tight."  I have so much.    But part of me will always find a way to retreat--in the intervals, in the moments of silence and slowness--into the sweet promise of the past, where what is now lost can be mine again.  Where grief and regret were not lodged deep within my chest.  Where my smile had no shadow.  I will move on, but I will find time to remember the things that once belonged to me.   And my travelling heart will navigate that same tug of war: move on, look back, move on, look back.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I think I'll let Tennyson speak for me today: three years.  Break, break, break, indeed.

Break, Break, Break

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Three years ago today (at almost this exact moment) I began a walk up Kennesaw Mountain.  (It was actually more like a waddle and less like a walk.)  I rubbed my belly while I worked my way up that mountain road.  A gentle rain began as I neared the top.  I can remember listening to 'Strawberry Swing' by Coldplay as I stopped at the lookout point, spotted the roof of the hospital, and informed my sweet William that very soon I would be meeting him there.  That was a blessed time--in the words of Mary Shelley, "when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart."
I still head up that mountain road from time to time.  Each time, I stop at the same lookout point.  I spot that same roof, and I thank God for that memory.  And then I weep for a brief moment before I continue on to the top of that mountain. I'll keep going to that spot, for as long as my bones will carry me there. And I'll rejoice in how fortunate I am to have that moment to hold on to. 
Strawberry Swing

 They were sitting, they were sitting in the strawberry swing

And every moment was so precious

They were sitting, they were talking in the strawberry swing

And everybody was for fighting, wouldn't wanna waste a thing

Cold, cold water bring me 'round

Now my feet won't touch the ground

Cold, cold water what you say?

It's such, it's such a perfect day, it's such a perfect day

I remember we were walking up to strawberry swing

I can't wait 'til the morning, wouldn't wanna change a thing

People moving all the time inside a perfect straight line

Don't you wanna curve away?

It's such it's such a perfect day, it's such a perfect day

Ah, now the sky could be blue, I don't mind

Without you it's a waste of time

Could be blue, I don't mind

Without you it's a waste of time

The sky could be blue, could be gray

Without you I just slide away

The sky could be blue, I don't mind

Without you it's a waste of time

Friday, March 30, 2012


"Begin" by The Wailin' Jennys

Hey, maybe the timejust wasn't right to hang on
When are you gonna learn
Sometimes things turn instead of turn out
Hey, when are you gonna stand
Stop looking over your shoulder
Me, with a head full of words
And not one useful expression
Hey, let go
We, with holes in our hearts
Were whole at the start
Our story began
We film ourselves 'til the end
Try to suspend our lives in the dark
Hey, when are you gonna stand
Stop looking over your shoulder
See, there's a sun in the sky
And a moon that will take us til morning
When are you gonna stand
Stop and begin this moment
Hey, let go
Let go (will we be the ones to understand?)...

"April is the cruellest month" --TS Eliot

Spring used to be my favorite season.
Its charm is lost now.
Spring is pain.
Spring is remembering.
Spring is losing.
Spring is leaving.

Now Spring is turning my face and inching forward one step at a time.
So I inch and try my hardest not to look back.

Sometimes I turn back for just a moment, like Lot's wife.
I am a pillar of ash.

Five years of struggle and strain.
I put my foot down in the Spring...and that step was so powerful; it jars me still.

Three years of that awful ache. I am reminded each Spring that, no matter how far I think I've come, I'm still one of the walking wounded.

Two that I miss...I miss so much that I retch and curse.
Two that are gone and will not return to me again while I have breath and light.

The two.

One held my hand and loved me and shared my days--he knew my Name.
And he dissolved before my eyes.

The second...well, the second slowly filled me up for nine sweet months and was gone before I awoke.

Spring used to be my favorite season.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Warm. He was heat,
A little radiating handful.
Pink and perfect,
Except for the mouth that hung open and odd.
Dark tendrils still wet, plastered to his tiny scalp
After his first—his only bath.
A lullaby of apologies,
Then the gentle pressure of his form,
The curvature of his spine
Was lifted out of my hands.
He was gone,
And my arms hung limp beside my treacherous body.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Falling Star

by Sara Teasdale

I saw a star slide down the sky,
Blinding the north as it went by,
Too burning and too quick to hold,
Too lovely to be bought or sold,
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone.