Not Mine to Keep | A Poem of Love and Loss

I love this poem! I find it so true of my experience as a mother of boys and girls. Check out her site; everything on it is well worth reading.

Lightning Bug

Family Photo Family Photo

For my girls:

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh is this child
this woman
who now walks away from me

Always she is walking away…always, she is going

I wish she had come with a note,
like a present with a ribbon tied ’round her wrist
and a card attached
with the words:

“Just passing through.
I will come to you,
into your body, into your home,
into your wallet, your schedule, your dreams
and most of all
into your heart.
But I will not stay.
I’m just passing through.”

She passes through
and in her wake, creates a wind
sometimes a soft spring breeze
that rustles free the seeds of tomorrow
sometimes a tempest that picks up, moves and
rearranges the scenery
into something new, unrecognizable

There is no place through which she passes that goes
untouched, unchanged, unaltered
She goes, but leaves her…

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I feel like Lucy must have felt when she returned after her first trip to Narnia.  She asked her brothers and sister if they’d missed her, but they hadn’t even noticed she had gone.  That was, of course, because she had been gone quite a while in Narnian time, but only for a moment in the time of our world.  To her siblings she had not gone anywhere; she was just still playing hide and seek.

With all my good intentions of sticking with Blogging 101 and Writing 101, so much has intervened, due both to unavoidable circumstances and lack of discipline, that I have been gone for quite some time.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone has noticed.

Mostly, though, I keep the ideas for blogs simmering in the back of my mind or scrawled in notes piled on my desk, because I haven’t given up on blogging or writing; I just have to find my own timetable.  Somewhere between a sense of duty to complete a task, a lethargy brought on by being too busy, and a propensity to let myself get distracted exists that space where I find fulfillment and joy in writing, where I am driven to express myself and desire to communicate and be responded to.  The more I am centered in that space, the more it draws me back and becomes a necessity in my life, not just a hobby.

Writing 101: Serially Found, Part Two

My hair wasn’t the only thing I whined about when I was young; at home in the safety of my family, I whined about everything. In public, on the other hand, I rarely spoke and was painfully shy.  I was the baby of four children, with thirteen years between my older sister and myself.  My sister was beautiful and, having married at eighteen, had a family and just seemed to have it all together.  My two older brothers were handsome and fun-loving and had lots of friends.  Although intelligent and possessing a sense of humor, I was small, skinny, flat-chested and afraid to speak out in front of my peers in class.  During the summers, I ran free and was a different person, but at school, from the Monday after Labor Day until the last Friday of June, I was pretty much a nonentity.

Oh, I had friends, but they were very similar to me.  When we lined up in size places, as we did back then in elementary school, we were all in the first quarter of the line.  In high school my social groups expanded somewhat, since I was involved in so many activities of the 60’s:  civil rights marches, peace protests, folk music.  I could talk with my friends, but in the classroom, I still had difficulty speaking up.  One of my teachers referred to me as Cordelia in King Lear, because, when I did answer a question, my voice was so soft and low that I was hard to hear.

I carried this shyness with me into college and attracted other girls who were also relatively shy.  My lunch partners were Mamie, Idelisse, and Monica, and we had great fun with each other, chattering about everything and anything, until lunch was over and I went back to my classes.

I did have another friend in college, though, who was instrumental in helping me to change myself.  It is a sad testimony to old age that I can’t remember her name, though I remember her boyfriend’s name (he thought he was the reincarnation of Thomas Wolfe, but I didn’t think he wrote that well…).  She was so totally different from me that it was amazing she became my friend at all.  She lived on her own, not with her family like the rest of us.  I think she was legally emancipated.  She was friendly and caring, outspoken and sure of herself.  We were both taking a seminar class for Psychology majors with Professor Austin Wood, one of the best teachers I have ever had.  We read novels and short stories, wrote papers examining the characters’ personalities and motivations using our psychological glasses, and then shared our thoughts in class discussions.  The class was small and informal, with twelve students.   One day I had an unpleasant surprise. Professor Wood had written on my paper “see Elliott,” and had apparently written on Elliott’s paper “see Emily.”  Of course I knew who Elliott was; in a class that size we all knew each other, or so I thought. What embarrassment and chagrin I felt when Elliott looked up and said, “Who’s Emily?”  I realized that I had effaced myself so completely that I didn’t even exist for some of my classmates.

My friend and my professor together came up with a plan and presented it to me.  Professor Wood would ask the other students to help me be comfortable speaking in class.  He would propose that they wait a few minutes before answering a question, or first look at me to see if I had an answer, to give me the time to get what was in my mind out of my mouth.  My part was to be willing to let them help me and to force myself to speak, despite my fears.

I did it.  I took the hand that was offered to me, held on to it, and took the first steps toward building my self-confidence.   People who have known me as an adult cannot believe I was ever quiet and shy because I tend now to be loud and outspoken.  I don’t know whether they would agree with all that comes out of my mouth these days, but I doubt if my friend and my professor would regret their decision to help me, because, in that class, I found my voice.