Sunday, February 20, 2011

More from Maui

For E's birthday, we drove to "the back side" of the island and spent the night in Hana. The following day, we took "the really long" way home, not retracing our steps but rather continuing along on the really scary, single lane, curvy beyond belief (even for this Northern California girl) road.

About halfway back, we stopped at an old, beautiful church. It was perched high atop a hill and had the most spectacular view of the ocean.

The church dated back to the early 1800s, if I recall correctly. There were stone ruins from where the pastor lived way back when. Sunday services are still held at this church.

Around the back of the church, there was a small burial ground for some of the church parishioners. Some of the graves were very rudimentary, just piles of stones, others were more "formal" gravesites.

I wandered through the grounds, into that back graveyard, lost in thought, speaking to Otis...remembering how when E and I were first ttc and then in the early months of my pregnancy we had spent so much time walking through a local cemetery here. It is an absolutely stunning old cemetery, with tons of local history, and the dogs can run leash-free there as well, so we would spend many mornings wandering through the park. We often looked at the tombstones and discussed baby names. I guess it could sound macabre to some of you, but it was just so peaceful and beautiful.

And then, there in that rustic graveyard in the back of the church, in the middle of nowhere on the backside of Mt. Haleakala, I stumbled upon it. All the other grave sites were quite large. This one was only about two feet long. And barely there, in crude handwriting in the concrete, it said, "BABY" and another name, along with a date I couldn't quite decipher (maybe 1985? 1885?).

I burst into tears. I sat down on the grass and sobbed. I knew immediately how loved that baby was. How wanted that baby was. That a mother and a father dreamt about that baby, and held wishes and hopes and expectations and then that a mother and a father had those hopes shattered...And they laid their baby to rest in the ground and they made that beautiful marker for that beautiful baby...

I cried for the baby, but more, I cried for his (or her) mother. I cried wondering if that mother had anyone to speak with about her pain. I cried wondering if that mother felt held and supported in her grief. I cried thinking about her, all the way on the back side of the island, all by herself in her sadness. I hoped the church provided comfort for her in her pain.

I am not alone. This pain I feel is as old as time.

And as we walked out of the grounds, I found this growing right there next to our car - like a dandelion, but not. Simply beautiful.

This poem was read at Otis's memorial, and I was reminded of it that day.

Blessed sister, beautiful one
with broken wings.
Your journey is a difficult one
that no mother should have to endure.
Your path is steep, rocky and slippery
and your tender heart is in need of gentle healing.

Breathe deeply and know that you are loved.
You are not alone,
though at times, you will feel like a
desolate island of grief
Close your eyes.
Seek the wisdom of women who have walked this well-worn path before you,
and before,
and before you yourself were born.
These beautiful ones
with eyes like yours
have shared your pain, and
weathered the storms of loss.

You are not alone (breathe in)
You will go on (breathe out)
Your wings will mend (breathe in)
You are loved (breathe out)

~ Mary Burgess


My New Normal said...

What a lovely poem. Thank you so much for sharing.

æ said...

so beautiful my friend.

Hanen said...

Thanks so much for this Sarah. I love the poem - there were many times where I really did need someone to tell me to breathe in and out - and to do it in such a beautiful way.

I'm wearing a brooch today that belonged to a woman who mourned three babies, and a six year old daughter - all while raising seven living children, including my grandmother. Just wearing it and knowing that her heart once ached beneath it like mine still does is a comfort.

(Also, you might be interested in Angie's writing on tonglen meditation - I think she puts it beautifully

kate said...

Such a beautiful poem - so perfectly expressed.

Hope's Mama said...

Such a beautiful part of the world. I'm glad you were able to feel supported and less alone on your travels. Otis is always with you.

roark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
roark said...

Stunningly beautiful words, and another beautiful sign. May you never, through all of this, feel alone, sweet friend.

(And I remember driving on the road to Hana when I was about 12, and biking Haleakala in the early morning hours. I LOVE how connected I can feel to you sometimes, even from my other-coast. :)

Missy said...

Such beautiful words and a lovely experience. Tears for that experience and I hope I can borrow the poem. All my love to you and Otis! ~Missy

Tiffany said...

your post gave me chills, that poem gave me chills. so moving. like you, i hate the others have weathered this storm and have lost children. but in my darkest moments, it does bring me comfort to know that i am not alone.

hayley said...

hi you,

"I am not alone. This pain I feel is as old as time." is so beautiful and sad and true and wise.

love you so much.


Brooke said...

I love that poem. And finding connections, knowing that I'm not alone--it's the only thing that makes think maybe I can survive this loss.

Jenn said...

Sarah, this is such a beautiful and moving post. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Thinking of you mama and sending you much love. xx

Tess said...

A beautiful poem Sarah, thank you for sharing that - that is the first time I've seen it and well 'breathe deeply and know that you are loved, you are not alone.... That is what I need to keep with me all the time.

I am glad too that your Maui trip brought back fond memories from your early pregnancy with Otis too - those are the things that give me such comfort these days.

Wishing you easy and light day ahead
So much love as always

ania said...

Dear Sarah,

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers soso often. I hope that life grows to be more peaceful, less heavy.

With tender care....