I think I was eleven; sixth grade, Mr. Maloney’s class, the first time I fell in love with a paragraph. I don’t recall the story we were reading silently at our desks, but I do remember the lemon-lime candy the author described in such exquisite detail that it made me drool on my shirt. All I could think about for the rest of the school day was this piece of lemon-lime candy the girl in the story was savoring. I had never even tasted lemon-lime candy, but I knew I had to find it. Now.
The power of the imagery and description in that paragraph stayed with me until at last I found a lemon-lime candy of my own. Silly, yes, but the fact that four little sentences had impacted me so, made me take notice of the written word in a new way.
It’s my mother’s fault. I blame her for my ridiculous appetite for books. When I was nine she and I took turns reading “The Secret Garden” at bedtime. Each night I would hurry through my bedtime routine so we could have more time to read. I was enchanted by the mystery of the garden, the waif-like and crippled Colin Craven, stubborn Mary Lennox, and Dickon Sowerby who could talk to animals. The Narnia series soon followed and scores of other books I bought from the Scholastic catalog. Oh happy day when that shiny catalog showed up on my desk at school. I still swoon at the memory.
As a teenager, poetry became paramount as I devoured the works of Poe, e.e.Cummings and Rainer Maria Rilke. I filled journals with poetry; Haiku, prose, line poems, Diamante. I pontificated on topics like the Holocaust, religion, love, death, and of course teenage angst. I hashed it all out with words and gave it all to Jesus when I was 21. Fifteen notebooks full of ink are smashed into boxes up in my closet. At least the ones I haven’t burned.
It’s typically how I’ve worked through things in my life; pen to page. But lately, I’ve felt quiet. The missing her comes in waves and sometimes leaves me gasping for breath, and all that’s left is to draw air. My words fail me. Other days I seem to be on auto-pilot. Get up. Brush teeth. Make coffee. You get the point. I kind of just “exist” completing the necessary tasks.
But sometimes I am slayed with such beauty that my heart cracks open and can feel, really feel, something good again. Hope maybe, expectation. And then, as quick as it came, it recedes back and is again replaced by the fog that is grief.
I do want to write. It is the one thing I have always known. I have navigated some treacherous depths by getting it all out on paper. This blog has been such a catharsis for me on Phoebe’s journey. Even when I can’t find words of my own, I recall stanzas I have long loved, like this one from Pablo Neruda I’ve shared before;
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I need to write each day. Even if only a word, just one word. It will be movement. It will mean something. Like rungs on a ladder for climbing out of grief. Each word a rung.
Lately I have been climbing Psalms;
“The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them. My eyes are always on the Lord, for He will pull my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am alone and afflicted. The distresses of my heart increase; bring me out of my sufferings. Consider my affliction and trouble, and take away all my sins.”
~Psalm 25: 14-18
“He keeps us alive and does not allow our feet to slip. For You, God, tested us; you refined us as silver is refined. You lured us into a trap; You placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us out to abundance.”
~Psalm 66: 9-12
Climbing on, Amey