Posted in Lanscape of Loss, Light, Markers, Return, Spring

Let It Be

It was a quarter of a century ago that I spent SpRiNg Vacation bleeding, assured by technicians & physicians that everything “looked good.” (My progesterone was just low and so they gave me some to take.)

It was this night that I would wake before dawn with a kind of rhythmic cramp that I’d never felt before, on & off, on & off. I thought I had a stomach virus.

By morning, I knew something was wrong and so I woke my husband and we drove an hour to the hospital. The midwife extracted the intact sac from my cervix. At least that’s how I remember it. That’s what I can still feel between my legs all these years later.

April 19th.

I’ve never forgotten the date even though the agony of loss was later overwhelmed by the joy of two sons, but not until I miscarried that fall. We had conceived immediately that time, living in the little ski rental beside the brook above the mill across from the cow pasture, our first place in Vermont.

It was the grief of the first loss, at the end of the first trimester, after a year of trying, that drove us from home–from the sea to the Green Mountains.

I was teaching 3rd & 4th grade in a little school nestled against a mountain just across from the ski place when they called me with the results of the ultrasound. I took the call in the nurse’s office and then went into the bathroom and sobbed before returning to my classroom.

I left that school after a single year. I loved my students, but I had fallen into despair, working 12 hours days, which was never enough, thinking my life would always be like that.

My sister sent me a cassette tape in the mail. “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I’d always loved bridges even though I’d planned to name both babies after the Beloved who I lost to one. I still have that plastic Easter Egg that I painted this month all those years ago–a small-petaled flower and the name: Lila.

“When you’re weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them off.

I’m on your side…”

I never went back to teaching after that, not full time, but next week I’m returning to that school to consider a classroom support position, twenty-five years after I left.

Perhaps there’s a bit of soul retrieval going on behind the scenes with both boys graduating, one from college, the other from high school, and the book about my grandmother rounding its last corner.

Let it be.

That was the other song from the tape that ministered to me,

“Mother Mary comes to me…

Let it be.”

I’m still learning what that means.

Posted in Ancestors, Back to the Castle, Return

a week back “home”

From 7 acres on a backroad in the Green Mountains—north to the great sea of Lake Champlain in the big city of Burlington—south to the Berkshires in a the middle of snowstorm—and finally across the mighty Hudson and down to Exit Zero on the GSP at the southernmost tip of the Garden State where I was born.

So many places, spaces & faces that feel like home.

This time next week she’ll be 92.

There she is coming to meet me at the ferry in Lewes, Delaware, waving as I come down the stairs through the terminal.

When I was a girl, foot passengers walked right across the boat ramp as I did on the inaugural crossing in 1964 (in my grandmother’s arms.)

The Ferry & I turned 50 a handful of years back and now we’re headed toward 55.

I miss the smell of the old wood pilings and the faded hues of the old ships, but some things haven’t changed–like the way the Captain’s horn startles me and how a loved ones wave quickens inside and how the wind on my face at the bow welcomes me home as the world recedes from view.

I’m not one to find a loved one in a cemetery but sometimes my car goes there anyway rembering a well-worn path And once there my heart spills open so that I can love more fiercely again.

Thanks Mom.

I wake before dawn with the full moon of Thanksgiving setting in the West and all my resilience spent with night’s regret.

And still, I rise toward the sea and wait as morning painstakingly breaks over the Atlantic, seeping like lava through a dark bank of clouds that stretches north and south across the horizon.

This is what it is to stand in the center of one’s pain, grieving what has been lost and what has been taken and what may never be.

Will I turn away in the bitter winds or will I remain still until the orange light unfurls beneath the darkness, reaching like a hand across the icy waters toward the shore.

“Stay,” she says, and in so doing, the light now golden, rises above the illusion of a hardened sky meeting all that has been hardened inside.

Posted in Return

“Our Lady of Wawa”

Aidan’s autumn week home has come to a close, finishing with a trip south for a family wedding in Pennsylvania, completed by the necessary Mecca to Wawa–just for gas; and while we’re there–How about a soft pretzel or two.

We skip the hoagies this trip, but what about Tasty Cakes–the Communion of Return–the Body of my Childhood (the peanut butter chocolate ones) and of my late mother (Butterscotch Krimpets.)

We arrive home the lesser for it, even while our hearts are full, and the powdery sky above the Green Mountains speaks of the cleansing promise of winter, as once again we say goodbye to our son.