I am Far Away. I am Heading Home.

My mother was a naturalist at heart.

She believed in animals and trees and growing things.

I know now, with some time behind me,

that these things she could trust.

Mommy and I did not share much; a love of old horror films,

staying up late into the night, and poetry.

We had a few poets that read between our lines for us.

While my mother lay dying I read from one of the poets who connected us in life,

Mary Oliver.

My mother and I each have a copy of an anthology of Ms. Oliver’s poetry.

I gave her the book and hers is dog-eared as is mine.

We  have different poems marked. I read my mothers favorites.

I was on the phone with Phil on and off during the day my mother died.

I was talking to my mother as she had requested years earlier  when we did the Five Wishes together.

Phil, in his ever gentle way, reminded me  during a particularly hard moment that day,

 Mommy did not like to talk.

 I laughed and knew he was right.

I needed to shut up and allow silence to live between us;

 during death as it had in life.

I  changed my tack. I talked little.

 I laid as close to my mother as I could.

I held her hand and stroked her face.

 I held her very favorite stuffed grey Kitty close to her .

I kept her blue blankie close to her.

Every now and then I recited the Lords Prayer and read to her from our book.

I was quiet.

 I was quiet and present and  for that I am grateful.

Phil is a wise man.

Below is the poem Mommy responded to the most early in the day.

 I continued to read this poem.

 I read this poem moments before I left.

I left assuming I would see her the next day.

She died not an hour later.

My Husband was the last family member with Mommy.

His parting words to her were;

“Godspeed, Kay. Godspeed.”

I did not know this until he read my post of the same name.

Life and Love are funny;

 we walk different  paths and we arrive at the same place.

This poem was one of my mothers favorites.

I believe it brought her peace to  imagine death as a return to the natural world;

 an all-encompassing world of Deep Bone Contentment.

I  wish my mother that Deep Bone Contentment on her Journey.

I hope you enjoy the Words.

Peace; still in pieces,

   Jen and the stuffed Grey Kitty.

(We are a Grieving Team, yes we are. Thank you for being here.

I am honored by your presence and I will be back; I know I will.)

White Flowers

By Mary Oliver

Last night
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death,
but instead I fell asleep,
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer,
sticky and untidy,
in the warm fields.
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered
with blossoms.
I don’t know
how it happened—
I don’t know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms.
I pushed them away, but I didn’t rise.
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty.
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers

~ by Step On a Crack on December 18, 2011.

23 Responses to “I am Far Away. I am Heading Home.”

  1. I’m so behind in reading “my” blogs but not behind in thinking of you. I’ve no doubt you’ll “be back”. You’ve never left, we’ve been alongside you all the way.


  2. Beautiful, thank you for sharing


  3. In the words of Willie Nelson … you (were) are always on my mind … Always on Our Mind(s). Peace Love.



  4. Reminded AGAIN how lucky your mother was to have you and what an unwaveringly dedicated daughter you were and are to her. You inspire us all to fulfill our family duties with grace, no matter what has happened. Thank You


  5. Jennifer-

    A beautiful poem! I am glad it is one you shared with your mother and one you shared with us. I also hope it continues to bring you comfort as you grieve and let go. Love you-


  6. ❤ Gorgeous writings. Hugs


  7. Profoundly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Jen. My prayers are with you.

    Do nice things for yourself as you allow yourself to grieve, OK?


    • Dear Heidi, THank you so much for being here and here in my heart. I am so so confused. It is hard to know what ‘do nice things’ looks like right now. Thank you for the reminder. Grief is …


      xxxooo Jen


  8. I love Mary Oliver. Almost 20 years ago, a dear professor of mine in grad school introduced me to her work & I started reading. I don’t have any of her stuff where I am, and no practical library to borrow a book to re-read, but this post has inspired me to go look for a way to get my hands on her stuff again.

    The part about your husband being the last person to be with your mom really touched me, as did how much she loved the poem you posted.

    “Life and Love are funny;

    we walk different paths and we arrive at the same place.”

    True, that. Heh.

    Thank you, Jen.


    • Mrs. D, You inspired my next post! It breaks this poets heart to think of you without the poetry you NEED! I posted two websites which have a TON of poetry available online.

      Words. right. Words.

      xxoo Jen


      • I just saw you posted it! Wonderful!

        I am most thankful for the Internet when it comes to finding poems. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked up The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, lol. (http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html) Thank you for the resources (I’ll comment there, too.)


  9. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
    – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
    Dearest Jen
    With white petals and grey tufts of fur, a new journey begins. While I know you’ll often feel alone, because that’s the way of grief, I also know there are many of us, many more than I know; more than you even know, that are taking this walk with you. We can’t put the pieces back together but we will be praying and listening and loving as God knits new patterns in your heart.
    I leave a piece of me with you to add to your pieces.


  10. I would like to use this particular entry with my hospice staff if you are willing to give me permission. I am the administrator of Heartland Hospice in Shawnee Oklahoma and we are having a memorial service this week specifically for one of our staff members’ mother. These are beautiful words and the poetry that you use is really meaningful in the work we do every day. Thanks in advance, Susan Ward


    • I would be honored.

      I have to tell you that, though my mother passed much more quickly than we expected, the hospice care that she received was outstanding. The hospice care that I received was outstanding. We were able to develop a close relationship in a very short time. I am eternally grateful to Hospice.

      I have undying respect for the work that you do.

      Peace to you and everyone on your staff,

      Jen ** I will be posting more poetry in the coming weeks that deals specifically with Grief and relationship.
      I hope it is also of use.


  11. I was so moved by your post. You are complete in your description of the sound and silent spaces of those last moments shared with your mother. Each line is powerful by itself, and the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. Thank you for the Mary Oliver poem. The thought of settling into the earth and of a mother and daughter “speaking” through their silence are comforting. Thank you again for letting us share in this ongoing journey. I know you and Grey Kitty will find your way, and we will be the richer for it.


    • Oh my. Your comment had me in tears, and that is not a bad thing. Thank you very much. Words are important. Sharing is important. Sharing Words is healing this heart of mine. Grey Kitty seems to be so sad; you are right. We will find our way. Word by Word; Step by Step.

      Thank you Very much for your very kind and thoughtful comment. Truly.

      Peace, Jen


  12. Beautiful. No surprises, coming from you, Jen, but wow. So beautiful.


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