Just When

Just when the weight

became crushing

and I no longer knew what to do

to make anything better at all,

and the pain was becoming too much

for you to bear

and me to see,

it lifted.

Just when words failed me

and I was running out of songs to sing you

while I massaged your aching back

or gently washed your face,

a comforter came

who spoke such words of consolation

that he drew from your own aching heart

words of hope.

Just when I cried out that I could not carry on,

could no longer bear

these birth pangs of your transition

into a new and deeper life,

the pain ceased—

a gentle day came

and you slipped out of this world

sweetly, like a baby in sleep.

Just when I felt so inadequate

to bring you any closer to peace,

everyone’s prayers kicked in

and suddenly lifted you,

as I’d promised,

straight up to Heaven

in a hot air balloon

filled with love.

The Pain that Waits in Quiet Corners

The hospice room is quiet

I can hear my dad breathing steadily in his sleep.

Not wanting to disturb him

I sit there in the half light coming from the bathroom door

clutch my hot tea

and try not to flee the stillness—

the pain that waits in quiet corners

to roll in hot tears down my cheeks.

After I eat the cookies that the sweet care attendant gave me

there’s nothing to do but sit and listen to him sleep

the way he must have so often listened to me sleep

when I was a blond and rosy baby.

Back then, all he had to do was hold me

and I was safe.

Now, all I have to do is let him go

and he is safe, too.

Both times

both hearts

aching with love.

Axe

Sometimes in the busyness of the day

I forget for a few minutes

and don’t feel the ache,

but when I first wake up

from the dream of sleep

to the nightmare of real life,

it is there

—the axe in my chest—

the cleaving pain

of remembering

my beloved father is dying

and all I can do is sing to him,

mother him,

tenderly stroke his head,

pray and cry,

and hold his sweet hands

still warm.

Molasses Bear

Evening has fallen.

The once brightly coloured stained glass windows

of the chapel are now dark as molasses.

They are so dark they almost look sticky and sweet.

What if they are, and this is actually a giant gingerbread house?

I ponder breaking off a piece to taste it,

the sugarcane windowpane…

but then the cold night air would come rushing in,

smelling of starlight and snow

and possibly followed by the large nose of a black bear,

snuffling about and eager to lick the molasses windows

with his long, wet tongue.

Even if we all rushed off to bed,

the bear could eat his way in,

then wander about the place,

leaving a trail of muddy paw prints

and crushed leaves and little bits of cedar

and a scent like the memory of late summer blackberries

coming from this large furry living thing

prowling about indoors,

who is not normally meant to be there…

On second thought,

I suppose I won’t try tasting the windows, after all.

(PS Thanks for the great bear pic, Four States News!)

Cloudscapes

I am a cloud

lying exhausted on the mountain’s shoulders

heavy with tears

I am a cloud

leaving behind a faint trail of snow

an imprint of my embrace

I am a cloud

my misty fingers clinging to the treetops

as I drift along

longing for their steadfast patience

I am a cloud

floating about

moved by wind and water

a constant living painting

unfolding across the sky

By various miracles, including a generous friend who gave me her spot, and a generous husband who agreed to work from home while watching our 7 kids, I’ve been able to go on a much desired silent retreat this weekend. It is amazing to have this restful time to myself to ponder such things as the quiet movement of clouds across the sky, in between naps and beautiful meditations in the chapel. Praying for you all as I recharge my batteries and fill up my bucket with beauty.

Church

Church attendance is up—

the parking lot is packed.

People wait with anxious faces,

day-worn and dreary in the early evening cold,

eager to receive the warm comfort

of a meal they didn’t make,

a bit of tender nourishment

amidst the hectic rush

and flow of pandemic worries…

I watch them as I walk by to pick up my daughter from ballet,

these people united though apart,

their cars waiting in line

at Church’s Chicken.

Once upon a pregnancy…an old poem unearthed

Earlier this week, while trying to recover my homeschool room from the storm that was unsupervised making of thanksgiving posters and crafts, and involved strewing crayons and paper all over the floor, I discovered an old poem I had written years ago, in a beat up spiral notebook. I thought it had been lost forever, and regretted it as I could only remember the first metaphor in it, and wanted to know the rest.

The poem was written early my fourth pregnancy, which followed rapidly on the heels of my third, and writing this poem was part of my trying to wrestle through my mixed emotions I had at the time. Funny how blessings come in disguise…despite my misgivings, this little baby girl turned out to be my most gentle, sweet, affectionate and undemanding child. Her siblings have said this themselves, in all honesty. We are all blessed by her quiet kindness. Here she is a toddler…now she is 9!

Without further ado, here is the old poem from my notebook, long before my blogging days began. I’ll transcribe it above the photos, so you don’t have to try to decipher my scrawl.

Winter Tree

I am like a winter tree

laid bare, stripped, naked,

exhausted—

yet secretly bursting with spring,

life swelling through my bare windswept skin.

I feel at once empty and ravenous

as a winter wolf or a nursing bear

emerging after a winter of sleep…

Yet inside me is a miniature universe,

a tiny piece of the puzzle of humanity,

forming rapidly in the dark warmth

of my womb.

I feel like a shipwrecked treasure chest

washed up on shore,

a waterlogged vessel filled with diamonds,

waiting to sparkle for the first time in the sun.

Inside me, a heart the size of a pea

is beating its way toward laughter, sorrow and love.

A matter of months,

and beauty will be born again.

Babyloss Awareness Day: October 15th

About 6 years and two weeks ago, my little daughter Josephine was born still. It felt like a crazy freak accident, something no one else would understand. Sadly, that’s not true—there are many people who do. This silent tragedy is all too common, although it often remains hidden until it happens to you to someone close to you.

So for all the moms and dads who are going through this kind of loss right now, or have in the past, know you’re not alone. Reach out and share your love and your sorrow…there are many broken hearts big enough to share your pain and offer the comfort of their company. May knowing there are others still standing after this, and still able to find beauty in life despite the pain, give you some flicker of hope.

✨❤️✨

Flu Season Sing-Along

Flu season, here we come,

it’s time to sneeze and sniffle!

We wash our hands,

stand far apart

and yet it is that season,

cause bugs you know,

with their little brains,

know not rhyme nor reason.

Cough, snort and blow your noses,

rub your aching heads—

this nasty flu is making us

all leak like a rubber hoses.

So hop in bed,

ye one and all,

it’s time to be separated by a wall.

As if social distance wasn’t enough for you,

this stupid pandemic’s teamed up

with regular flus.

So here we come, long days alone,

thank goodness for the telephone!

Time to play nurse now,

soothe some heads,

tuck seven kids into their beds,

rub little feet with tiger balm,

dream about a beach with palms.

It’s no wonder tired bears get irate—

smartest thing is to hibernate.

So here’s wishing good health to you,

as for my house, it’s a zoo.

Flu season for one and all,

welcome, welcome, welcome, fall!