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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

deeper glimmer showing

Anti-anxiety Tool of the Week: Hand to Hand

Gently stroke the palm of one hand with a finger or fingers of the other a few times. Then pause. Pay attention to the physical sensations and any small peace or ease or wonder they may bring. Wish yourself well. And keep it slow and simple--less is usually better than more.

deeper glimmer showing

The other day I came across a short poem I wrote in 2005, not long after my mom's 90th birthday celebration in mid-November, when we were heading into the darkness of winter, when my soul understood a little of what might unfold during the last few weeks of that year.

I'll never forget the train ride home a few weeks later, from Vermont to Virginia, after our Christmas visit. My mom, struggling with Alzheimer's and other maladies of old age, had certainly declined some since I had seen her in November, though not in an extreme way. But the deepest part of me seemed to know I would never see her again.

The beginning of the journey on that train was enormously difficult, as I felt every rhythmic clack of the wheels dragging me further and further away from her. I desperately wanted to stop the train and rush back to Vermont. To try to protect her--and all of us--from that final going. Somehow.

And yet...and yet, those deepest places in me also knew it was inevitable, an unstoppable path she--and I--had to travel. Not fun. But true.

A couple of days into January we got the call from the nursing home--"we don't think she'll make it another 24 hours"--just as a major snowstorm was heading into New England. My husband and I were not able to get up there before she died, but my oldest sister literally risked her life driving through what had become a blizzard, in order to be there with our mother as she moved on. I have always been so grateful to my brave and compassionate sister for heeding that call.

I ended up reading the poem at my mom's memorial service, a little more than a month after I wrote it.

It is, in a broad sense, the story of her life, of all our lives, really, although I did not consciously write it with that in mind--my poems and stories often know more than I do. This one offers hints of unfathomable paradox, unimaginable sorrow, extraordinary beauty and true love--in the midst of daily life. That, to me, is what it means to be a human being.

finding losing seeking sleeping

deeper glimmer showing

blossoms overflowing

snowing walking reading

guiding bleeding being

deep dark final going


Until next time,


Photo credits:

Hands, Liane Metzler, unSplash

Sailboat, jo-v, unSplash


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