Monday, January 18, 2010

Renascence; A Lesson On Living

I ran across a story on here that has deeply affected me, heart and soul. I stumbled upon it by hitting the 'Next Blog' button. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I hesitated to address it here, because I wasn't sure if it was kosher to write about someone else's blog without their permission. But this is my blog, and I can write what I want, especially if it has affected me as much as this has. I am not going to include any names or any links, because I think that would be going over a fine line of decency and respect. And if the author of that blog does miraculously happen upon this, please accept my apology but your story is so touching and you are so open about it, and I think you deserve to have others hear and recognise your determination and courage.

This blog was written by a 29 year old woman. Actually, she's been writing in it for a few years and her story really began ten years ago when she was 19. It appears she met a young soldier online, stationed in Germany. They chatted for months before he phoned her and their friendship deepened. Eventually, they met, fell in love and married.

They went on to have four children who are now 3 to 8 years in ages. Our writer shares with us her excitement as she counts down days to when her young husband will return from wherever he was deployed. We share her joy, her strength and and her love for her family.

Most of her early blogging is the typical accounts of a young family. She cooks and shares her recipes with us. She tends to her house . She tells us cute stories about her kids. We read about her husband returning home. And then we feel her concern when he develops pneumonia and is hospitalized.

She writes almost daily. We travel with her as she hunts down people to tend to her kids while she visits the hospital. We read of her frustration with the doctors for not being able to cure her husband. We grow with her in the knowledge of foreign medical terms which she begins to toss out with ease. One day he is better, the next day he is worse. And she wrote it all.

She tells us her husband, tho extremely ill, remains lucid for the most part. She bounces back and forth and then back and forth again and again, one day saying he is well enough that they are considering sending him home, and the next, that numbers are askew again and he has been readmitted into ICU.

Then, just when we think he is out of the woods, and our lady shares with us her breath of relief, her husband develops a staph infection in his lungs.

Then we suddenly get the news, brief and stark;

"My husband passed this morning."

And if you are like me, you weep for her and her kids and for the husband who must leave his young family. She goes on writing daily. It is therapeutic for her. She tells us how, when her husband died, she went into a stairwell at the hospital and screamed so loud that her ears and the walls surrounding the stairs, rang. She shares with us her concern over her children. She even tells us how, the day before he passed away, he had become ill tempered and told her to leave the hospital and not return and how angry that made her. We go with her on her trip to the funeral director, and hear her choices, based on what little she can remember that her husband had said to her through the years about his wishes.

And then the hard part begins; her grief. She sleeps in his clothes. She washes her face with the cloth he used which she had left where he last put it. And day by day, she writes it all.

We are happy for her when she cooks her first turkey (a job that had always been his) and it turns out "awesome!" We mentally hug her when she writes that she is only in her twenties and knows she will find happiness again. We feel somewhat intrusive when we read her letters to her husband that she periodically posts, telling him how she misses the little the "smack on her ass" as she walks by. We want to weep as she writes to him that she needs to move on but that she will always love him.

Her husband has been gone for just over a year now. And as her blog progresses, we learn that she is in the process of purchasing a house and planning a trip to Disney World for herself and her four kids. She still talks about her grief and longing but she has moved on to focus more and more on her present and future. And I admire her strength, so very very much.

Ever since I read her blog, I have lost patience with people. It makes me angry to listen to their complaints. I do not care that your husband had mean words for you or that you have gained weight or that your work sucks. I want to scream at you to shut up, to just SHUT THE FUCK UP! I want you instead, to read this poem, written by an eighteen year old Edna St. Vincent Millay, called "Renascence" (which means 'rebirth')


All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.
But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And -- sure enough! -- I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.
I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.
All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.
And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, --
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!
A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.
No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.
Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, -- there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.
How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
Before the wild wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.
I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
\A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.
Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!
Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

And now, go outside and feel the sun on your face or the rain on your face. And then, if you're able, plan a trip to Disney World.


  1. This is completely irrelevant to your post (which, by the way, is fabulous), but I'd really like for you to read my new one "How I Learned to Laugh"- I think you'll get a kick out of it.

  2. I did get a kick out of it, Anon. What fun!!

  3. In the nicest possible way babe!!! Gizza fuckin link then!!! The woman has lost her hubby - which may, or may not be a bad thing, and you tell us but don't give us a bleedin link to say owt to her....should we feel obliged!!!

  4. I happen to love this poem, but I had not reread it for years. Thanks for putting it up.

  5. I love it too. It amazes me that she was only 18 when she wrote it.
    And you are welcome.


Go ahead, you can do it! Just whistle if you want me. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and BLOW....

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