When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran, from"The Prophet"

Sunday, October 30, 2011


What We Want

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names—
now they want us.

But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.

We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.
--Linda Pastan

The treacherous season has arrived and I'm feeling the onset of the descent; the path upon which I set foot five years ago this very weekend. Mild concern that transitioned into confusion, then snowballed into sheer panic and eventually converged on December 15 with a diagnosis. A sentence. A death sentence that wouldn't register at the time. It couldn't... then. Determinations from the white coats who had peered into microscopes in a cold lab, scrutinizing slides holding slices of tissue - small round blue cells with their scant neoplasm, a translocation between chromosomes 11 and 22. What?
Then, survival rates. Statistics. A prognosis.

Three years later, and ironically again at this time of year, those hellishly despotic cells that stealthily avoided our earnest wage of chemical, physical and radiologic warfare made a clear declaration that they had gained the upper hand over my ever-optomstic and spirited last born, stripping her from my grasp and leaving a vacuous space that cannot be filled by anyone or anything. She is irreplaceable.

empty chair AlanPee

I move about the days looking perfectly normal, smiling even, while searching for bandaids and therapeutic repair of my spent character. Some efforts work for a time, the palliative respites of which I grew intimately familiar as I watched them work their magic and spell my daughter's physical distress time and again for three long years.   Salve and some breathing space.  Amen.

Other attempts fall miserably short, and as I work to crawl back out of holes, often results of my shovel's sharpened blade, I'm reminded to perhaps lower my expectations of not only the general population, but of my own self as well.

Why engage in the descent?  I still need to.  Walk away, you say?  Can't.
Just curl up on the couch with your blanket, Mary. Stay there. You're so tired from all the effort. Sleep.
But those dreams are there...

And I'm confused by them.  I can't have what I desperately want, and so it comes down to settling for alternatives that don't add up. I was comforted by the absolute fact for years that 1 + 1 + 1 +1 was equal to 4. Now, I find myself shaken by the basic principles of subtraction. I used to love math, but no one took the time to explain the reason that 1 would be taken away from 4, and I'd be left with only 3.
I've developed an aversion to odd numbers.

I was once more than just the mother of Erin, but when the ground swallowed her it took nearly everything defining me with it.

who the hell am i


  1. grief stricken
    role model
    hey, i could go on...

    you are doing the very best that you can with the ultimately shitty hand you were dealt. that really is all you can possibly do, potts. you are a woman who is landing on her feet whenever she can and we are all here to reach out to steady you.

    sending you love across the miles as you navigate these especially tough months. i am with you in spirit. don't ever forget that.

    xo -reed

  2. Michelle said that she was bringing buckets of grace to my ordination, and I am here to pour all of the contents on you. Much love sent your way as the change of season, the weather, the very feel of the air, reminds and reminds and reminds.

    You are the mother of Erin, beautiful girl, always and forever.

  3. She is never forgotten, even for those who never had the chance to know her. Her smile lights up her face. I wish for comfort for you.
    Beth S

  4. You are Mary, a woman, a poet, a light, a wife, a mother, a soul. You will always be the mother of four.

    I used to wonder how I could suffer so much from the loss of one person who I had not even known for the first 35 years of my life. How knowing her had re-arranged my cells, my being, so much that her death made such a HOLE in my life. I don't have an answer, and I do not seek one. It simply IS.

    Mary, please be so very gentle with your self these days, especially. Massage, pedicure, spa, walks, whatever it takes - please give it to yourself, generously.

    You are loved and held in solidarity.

  5. Karen L R said it all...my thoughts exactly! xxoo

  6. Erin Elizabeth is IRREPLACEABLE and you will always be a family of 6.
    Ditto Karen LR comments....and a loving Wife, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, dear Friend...
    As in the poem, "Footprints in the Sand", may you feel the presence of Christ walking with you and holding you.