02 February 2014

That Was the Year

That was the year my brother 
got arrested. To say my brother's name 
and prison in the same sentence, other than
to say he was volunteering, was an impossible 
juxtaposition that destroyed my picture 
of our family, and took my breath away. 

That was the year my daughter left for college
and all I could do was cry. Not sweet motherly tears
but heaving sobs, running nose and swollen eyes
that embarrassed everyone around, including me. 
I went to a couple's workshop with my husband but 
all I could do was cry at the loss of Kelly.

That was the year my mother died
and there should never be a year when
a mother dies six weeks after being diagnosed with something
that had treatment protocols 
and a favorable prognosis but instead she died. 
I wasn't ready to not have her in my life,
in my daughter's life or to figure out what to do
with the hole in my heart for which they
had no treatment protocols. It felt
like this hole was the whole of me and it
was mother who always cared for our hearts
but she died and I had to figure out how to do it
by myself that year. In the many vivid dreams 
I had of mother after she died I was so relieved 
to see her I forgot to ask how she did this essential thing.

That was the year I got fired from my job but it wasn't a job
to me. It was my profession, all I wanted to do since I was three. 
They used euphemisms like downsizing 
or rightsizing but it wasn't right for me, although 
they did size me down alright, so down I was immobilized,
really, unable to move. 

I had to go to a healer that year to get healed
because I just couldn't move and I had a hole in my heart.
It wasn't the kind of healing to give me something
to chat about at a coffee klatch. It was the kind that got my
limbs moving, filled my heart, drove away evil,
brought back goodness and saved my life.

That year, that was the year.

This was posted first in May of 2012 in a different form in response to a stream-of-consciousness writing prompt and redone here for the Repeat Performances prompt by Karin (Manicddaily) encouraging repitition in our poetry over at dVerse Poets Pub
Now, many years later, I realize that that year became one of my great teachers and that the healer was one of my life's great gifts. 


  1. goodness...that was a lifetime in one year...full of pain, of change, hardness...i am glad you went to that healer...i would like to hear more about that part sometime...whew...the loss of the mom resonates as well considering the death of my MIL was one of the hardest times in my life.

    1. For me, it's the hardest loss so far. Mothers are such bedrock. As for the healer, now there's a story wanting to be told.

  2. You know there is a wonderful book you may have read called "A Year Of Magical Thinking" (I think) by Joan Didion-- about the year in which both her husband and daughter died--how do people survive such difficulties? You describe them so poignantly--use repetition very effectively--I am glad you came through it, and you seem to have such a wonderful life now--Thanks so much for participating with this wonderful poem. k.

    1. I read and treasure that book. She so clearly put into words what was inchoate within me. Loss of a beloved spouse is a whole other thing altogether. Thanks for this prompt. There's something about loss that wants to be repeated.

  3. Why is it that everything seems to happen to us at once. And yet you survived and I've survived and taken those lessons that have enriched our lives in some peculiar way. And, no doubt, there will be more as we age and are called upon to let go of so much. Courageous write, Mary. Thank you.

    1. My father who is 97 says the hardest part of living so long is having to let go of so many family and friends. Keeps calling for courage.

  4. This is a moving piece with a lot of heart. Outstanding.

  5. oh heck... what a year... and there's only so much one can carry... my mom is quite old already and sometimes, just thinking that she will leave us some day stops my breath...glad you found healing mary..

    1. I really hadn't thought much about losing her until I did since she was only 79, but it was a tidal wave when I did.

  6. -sigh- I can feel your pain, in reading your words...

    So happy, that to look back on it, you can find joy, in the memory of the healing...

    Gentle hugs,

  7. Amazing and wonderful and HARD, the gifts that times like that give us. I can truthfully say how grateful I am for hardship, abuse and fear - Not only have I been tempered strong, I completely understand and empathise with people that, in my previous sheltered life, I might have discounted.

  8. I like your phrase tempered strong. I too have experienced the ability to empathize that I didn't have before and count it a gift.

  9. Such a year, what an ordeal.. Not a repetition to enjoy. Still wonderful written.. And you got through..

  10. Wow, what a year that was! It would have had me under the bed eating chocolate in the dark. What doesn't break us, makes us stronger.


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