Saturday, March 14, 2009



The time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer
and I did not die.
Surely God had His hand in this.

As well as friends,
still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it-
books, bricks, grief,-
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled-
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep wave,
a love
to which there is no reply?

-Mary Oliver

I have hesitated to post this extraordinary poem. I have been waiting until it felt real to me, until I found myself once again lingering to admire the things of this world. After the accident, it seemed like beauty and sacredness were all around me, and as immense as my grief was, it was made more bearable by gratitude and awe.

Lately, I have felt mostly just the heaviness.

And maybe it is the same heaviness that I have carried all along, but now more than ever, I want to throw it off and just be happy. I want to celebrate my pregnancy and the existence of our precious second child. But when I go to my appointments at the Birth Center, I cry and cry.

This baby doesn't seem real to me yet. Or . . . the baby feels real, but my heart has not yet grasped the fact that I am really a mother again. Unlike all the babies that I hold each week at work, this one will stay with me . . . hopefully for 18 years or so.

Over the last year I have found great joy in holding other people's babies, and I have practiced releasing them, as I must, back to their parents. In some small way, each time I do this, I am recreating the experience of losing Sage - loving and letting go. And I guess I have done this instinctively, to heal myself.

How can I begin to trust that I won't have to let go again? And I don't mean all the small ways we as parents have to let go, but . . . let go of ever seeing my child again, of watching him grow up, of ever, ever hearing him say a word.

This is where I am. I am pregnant. The year anniversary of Sage's death is two weeks away. I think it was one of my BabyLoss friends who commented that her pregnancy after her loss involved not only bringing forth that baby, but also bringing forth herself as a mother - a new, different mother than she had been before.

So, I will practice carrying the weight, and one of these days, maybe sooner than I think, I will startle myself with laughter again.


caitsmom said...

The poem is beautiful, as are your words and images that accompany them. Thank you for this post.

Sara said...

The poem is new to me and I love it. Thank you for sharing it.

3/4 mom said...

Thank you for introducing me to so much beautiful poetry. I love this poem, and your post is lovely.

Anonymous said...


I are the exact perfect woman that this baby needs to mother it. Remember our talk, your loss will be this child's gain even though it doesn't feel like it right are its "perfect mother" with all of your woundedness and pain you will bring a special gift to this special child. I count myself soooo blessed that you are my friend and my heart aches with you in all of this. You are loved beyond your wildest imaginings!

Anonymous said...

Jessie dear, You touch me, always. Mary Oliver touches me, always. I am reading a book of her poetry right now and feeling moved and uplifted and inspired. Recently someone asked me which five books I would want on a desert island. One of them would be a Mary Oliver book. The name of your site, "The Encouragement of Light," is so appropriate for what you are communicating. With love, Susan