Spring’s Sweet Arrival

A gaggle of geese return to our street each winter
while migrating from one place to another.
They arrive in January, around my husband’s birthday,

and I am surprised to find them behind our house,
honking like cab drivers in traffic. Most leave with
babies but one pair can’t manage to have any;

I’ve watched them sit for years on a wet nest of death,
warming unhappiness. It is only when the other
geese swim past them, proudly displaying

a line of live chicks, that they realize they have
failed again, their eggs silent beneath the love
of their feathers. My neighbors and I don’t agree

on much but we all watch these geese from our
windows, with binoculars sometimes, our breakfast
growing cold on the table. We wish the unsuccessful

ones would have a season of luck, their eggs healthy
and well placed, for each of us has known the pleasure
of spring, the way it feels for something closed

to open: the soft, heavenly weather of arrival.

“Geese” by Faith Shearin from Moving the Piano.

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For nearly eight years, my husband and I have been the “unsuccessful ones”, our “silent eggs” s.t.i.l.l. beneath the weighty love of expectant feathers. We have looked upon the happiness of countless friends and loved ones. We have cried tears of joy with them. And have tried to see ourselves not as passed over or less fortunate, but as richly blessed…in ways meant only for us. Parts of our journey were heartrending, others life giving, but all have contributed to our present moment: five weeks away from parenthood and a complete and utter shift in life as we know it.

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During this sacred time, an inward turn was necessary. Instead of sharing the threads of my heart in this space, I’ve shared them, both written and spoken, with my child. I have pondered who I am becoming and how that person seems both foreign and familiar. I have imagined our new normal. I have hoped. Prayed. And I have embraced a running current of gratitude for that which we don’t yet have.

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As part of the loss community, the elusive happy ending is never far from one’s thoughts, but my mantra over these past eight months has been:

Be. Present.

I haven’t wanted to get ahead of myself.

I couldn’t.

I didn’t.

So I’ve stayed.

Here.

P.r.e.s.e.n.t.

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In my absence, many of you have reached out in love, concern, and friendship. Please know how deeply your sentiments are felt and how grateful I am for your affection and connection.

As any new parent, I’m unsure what the coming weeks and months will bring (and equally unsure what this space will become–bear with me on that, please). I simply (or not so simply) hope to be both the mother I’ve envisioned and the mother baby M so richly deserves.

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A friend’s return

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Schafer Stutzman

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Schafer Stutzman

Over the years−whether by accident or by design−I have lost touch with multiple friends.  For years it bothered me.  Knowing that these people held slivers of my heart in their possession bothered me.  Knowing that perhaps those pieces of me meant nothing to them bothered me.  Knowing that perhaps I meant nothing to them bothered me.

As a teenager and into my early twenties, I fought against it.  People moved on or away and I wrote and called and persisted.  They showed less interest and I continued on−possibly being annoying, probably being pathetic−because I just didn’t get it.  How does someone who means so much suddenly mean nothing?  The rub was that it wasn’t sudden; it just felt that way.  In reality, it was a slow fading away like watching a tree shed its foliage one precious leaf at a time.

Not until I lost touch with one of my most treasured friends did I finally learn to accept.  Hers was the house I ran to when I found out my family was no longer a family.  She was the one I cried to the countless times my high school boyfriend dishonored me and I, in turn, dishonored myself by staying with him.  She was the one who guarded my secrets and stood watch at the gates to my heart.  She was the real thing.  And then she slipped away, slowly like the leaves, until she was gone.

Just days ago, after 15 years of emotional and physical distance, we reconnected.

A beautiful thing.

I don’t pretend to know who she is now or the many roads she’s taken to get where she is.  I don’t pretend to know who has cheered her triumphs or sat in silence with her when there simply were no words.  I don’t pretend to know her heart or her dreams like I once did.  And somehow.  That’s okay.

The only thing that I do know is that I’m thankful.  And perhaps that the foliage is full and I am seeing her, for the first time, once again.

Gratitude

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Machado

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Machado

I walked past a house today that, just yesterday, was hit by lightning; it burned to the ground.  I saw a black car parked in the drive, charred remains of a roof that once sheltered a family and a scattering of things and dreams.  I couldn’t help myself from looking, from examining the evidence left behind, from asking the question, “Was this simply a house or was it a home?” Had it been filled with laughter?  Had little ones run through its front door and flopped themselves onto a couch exhausted from the whirlwind that is childhood?  Had its rooms smelled of banana bread and egg soufflé (the kind with the bits of sausage in it) and that famous chicken only Dad could make?  Had people loved and fought and loved again?  Had there been a reckoning of losses, of the times one person’s ego had been boosted by sacrificing another’s?  Had hands been held?  Had the silence been sweet and peaceful?  Had it been more than just walls and beams and bricks and slabs of concrete?  Had it been the place where things are made right?  Where the soil of the heart is fertile and the memories of togetherness and F.A.M.I.L.Y are fresh and ever present?  

In the silence, I said a prayer for the family, and then walked briskly down the street in the direction of my own.