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.