Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Cocoon

The crisp envelopes rest on my dresser. As they have for five days.

Condolences. Phrases etched from heartstrings to ballpoint.

And I haven't been able to open one.

Since we returned home, I've cocooned myself, wiping noses, packing lunches, and changing the subject.

I embrace the tasks, and pull away from the embraces.

And the envelopes rest on the dresser.

My husband and I discuss health insurance, retirement, and death certificates. We can clean up these twigs and branches, ignoring the hole on the side of our house.

But the envelopes wait, the voices trapped within.

It's time. I open a package, and find yellow Narcissus bulbs inside. "Plant these. And when they bloom, remember your mother."

And, holding that promise in my hand, I smile. And cry, a little.

I leave my cocoon. It is a cold, bright world, full of tomorrows.


Kristina said...

This was really powerful for me. I've been there, trapped in grief and afraid to open cards and letters. Great job.

Alison said...

Wow, what a poignant post. Great job.

Anonymous said...

wow. made me cry.

Melanie said...

Stunningly poignant.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Nancy I have goose bumps reading this....beautiful and sad at the same time. I hope you plant the flowers and as soon as the pain is less remember the amazing memories of her. ((hugs))

CDG said...

"I embrace the tasks, and pull away from the embraces."

So true in so many times of our lives. I wonder if when we can turn into the embraces and turn away from the tasks, that means we are beginning to heal.

Ali said...

what a lovely piece... those of us who have lost a really close loved one can truly understand every word. I have just gone down and read a whole bunch more of your posts... lovely, lovely writing!!!

Elaine A. said...

A good friend of mine's mother recently passed away and I don't live close enough to have gone to the funeral.

I bought a card for her the other day and am about to write "Phrases etched from heartstrings to ballpoint" (love that).

I'm so sorry.... xo

Ash said...

I love the idea of the bulbs. Brilliant. To every thing there is a season.

May your grief ease with the passing of each day.

Love, A

Mel said...

I planted trees in honor of my Dad - redbuds, because they were his favorite and because the leaves look like hearts. I think they need some cheery bulbs underneath.

There is no right way or time to grieve, that is all I know about the subject. I greedily read the condolence cards, wanting to gather everyone's memories into my own. My husband thought it was masochistic, but he only saw how they made me cry, not how they let me string another pearl on my necklace of memories. To each their own.

I was very lucky to receive an advanced reader's copy of Kevin Young's The Art of Losing, a collection of poems about grief, a few years after my father died. I wished I had it sooner. Somehow I think you might find some comfort and solace in the artistry of those pages.

Welcome to the bright world of tomorrows.

dosweatthesmallstuff said...

Yes, I could imagine how difficult it must be to face what was easier avoided. At the same time, to finally face it meant we accepted the fact and hence could move on. Very concise and to the point.

Kir said...

there were so many places I loved:

"Phrases etched from heartstrings to ballpoint" , for a soft soul like mine this was beautiful.

"Plant these. And when they bloom, remember your mother."

I felt my eyes well, of how in the last 15 years I have honored and remembered the memory of my dad, that I have sprinkled his ashes on a beach or listened to his favorite songs while cleaning on a Sat morning.

I am so sorry for your loss, knowing that it is never the right time to lose a parent and that the whole in your heart will be there forever now. I can onlytell you that your words made me want to pull into that embrace...

and to wish comfort & Peace in those "tomorrows"

Coby said...

This just brought tears to my eyes. I remember well the acute pain of losing Hubby's dad shortly after the twins were born. Of spending many of our days immediately after his death just going through the motions.

Now we smile and laugh when we remember, and the tears are fewer.

You could pull away all you wanted - I would embrace you anyway.

Hugs, sweet friend. said...

i'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. this piece... wow. so very emotional.

BalancingMama (Julie) said...

So touching. Grief can truly shut us away. I'm glad you found your way out of the cocoon.

Melanie said...

Beautifully written. Just beautiful.

So true with grief and the heart. It's scary to deal with the loss in the moment, but in time, it does get better.

Mihee said...

Palpable. Lovely.

Galit Breen said...

Oh Nancy, this is so beautifully written, and so heartstring pulling.

You used so few words and yet described your heart perfectly.

Much love to you, friend.

The M half of the M -n- J Show said...

Beautiful, lovely, sad, poignant. Anyone who has lost a loved one will be able to relate. Hugs to you.

From Tracie said...

Oh Nancy. This is beautiful and heartbreaking and hopeful and touching.

Holding you close in my thoughts and prayers.

Cheryl said...

Lovely, Nancy. Truly lovely. xoxo

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Nancy, I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm feeling many of the same feelings as you over the recent loss of a loved one. Big sigh. Send love and hugs. jj

Sara said...


An online friend of mine recently lost her mom. I immediately thought of her as I read this post.

Having lost both parents, I know this don't really forget, but you do learn to live with it.

I'm pleased that the envelope opened had just the right message. Life does go on and we do remember.

Oh, and this was very well written. Simple, but very potent.

Jenny said...


I'm sorry.

This might feel appropriate to you right now. It is something I wrote for a friends passing.

Little drifts of snow cover the ground. The icy earth is corduroyed with frozen foliage; unbroken by green, devoid of color.

This is a hard time. A winter time. A time when emotions cut deep and breathing becomes shallow.

This might be a time, in fact, when hearts wonder if spring will ever come again.

The bulbs and roots and rhyzomes planted over the years lie dormant. It will be months before the center of their being sends tender green shoots toward the light.

Prayers offer small relief, but they do not make the shivering stop. We read moving words by a poet that remind us, “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. "We try, oh we try, to let that belief comfort us with the knowledge that there will be a spring again.

This is a hard time. A winter time. We shiver and wonder and doubt. And spring feels like an impossibility.

How can there be spring when the sunshine is gone? How can there be tender green shoots when we feel like the center of our being has been stolen away?

Time will pass, as it always does, whether we want it to or not.

The days will tick by on the slow-moving hands of the clock of mourning. Winter will linger and we will huddle together against the cold and against the pain of loss. We will clench our fists tightly and hold onto memories too painful to contemplate.

And one day when the sunlight slants down in a particular way, the moisture from our tears mixed with the soothing baptism of warm, spring rains, will announce to the tender bulbs and roots and rhyzomes planted over decades of devotion, that it is time to grow again.

The gentle green shoots will inch skyward and we will watch, carefully, with breath held against the possibility of more pain.

We will wait until the sunshine melts into glorious golden pools of daffodils and forsythia and the clouds drift down into fairy-tale apple blossoms and hyacinths.

We will see these amazing miracles of nature and our eyes may fill with tears. Their perfection may be painful to hearts bruised by memories.

And time will pass, as it always does, whether we want it to or not…

…until one day, we will see the tender green of a spring day, and it will be through new eyes. It will be lovely in a different way. We will tip our heads back toward the sunshine and surround our hearts with the abundant fragrance of bouquets of daffodils and lilacs.

We will release our clenched fists and let the memories of a life well-lived, a family well-loved and a man of honor, integrity and courage float in the water-color sunshine that follows a winter thaw. We will find peace.

I cannot imagine how hard it is right now to look for the light when the dawn is so very dark. Close your eyes. Lean on the love, compassion and prayers surrounding each of you until the day you are ready to see the peach and pink of a spring-time dawn ready to warm your heart again.

Kristy said...

Grief is the deepest sadness a person can feel. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Julie said...

I am hoping the brightness of the world has become a bit easier for your to bear.

And I hope the bulbs are beautiful when they bloom.