Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Poem: "Shadows" by D. H. Lawrence

It continues to be my regular practice to visit Josh on Saturday's, clean his stone marker, untangle the chimes on his tree and write a weekly letter to him.  A newly added ritual is to stop at a local coffee shop and spend some undistracted time reading.  It was here, armed with a lite caramel latte, amidst a lively morning weekend crowd, that unexpectedly, tears began to fall as this poignant section of Lawrence's poem ploughed deep into my fragile, recovering soul.  (The edits in parenthesis are mine.)
And if, in the changing phases of (a mother's) life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life: 
and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion,
and snatches of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem,
yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before,
new blossoms of me -  
then I must know that still
I am in the hands of an unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning,
a new (woman).
The "changing phase" of my life has dealt what could be an unrecoverable blow - the suicide death of a beloved seventeen-year old son.  Indeed the aftermath, as aptly described by the poet, is shattered bones, a dead heart and deep fatigue from shouldering such grief, guilt and remorse, leaving only a mere shadow or "leavings" of the former naive life.

On the outside, I may look the same as the "pre-Josh" days but internally, nothing is the same.  I am not the same person; I am irrevocably changed.  Before reading this poem, I thought the difference was because of the Josh-shaped vacuum in my heart.  I have also described it as an internal amputation; the instant I found him, and my brain registered what happened, a piece of me was brutally hacked off.  So the focus was on what I didn't have, what was missing, what was lost and gone - never to return.

These words made me realize and acknowledge that even in the midst of death and destruction, loss and misery, the"withered stem" can give birth to "odd, strange, wintry flowers" that have never been seen before.  And that these are new bits or "blossoms"of me.  Writing very openly on a public blog is a new blossom.  Reading new genres and authors over the past 3+ years - also new blossoms.  The fact that I ran a half-marathon a year later to help raise money for the foundation in Josh's name (I despise running) is a big blossom.  My perspective on life is different; another new blossom.

The poet says this is evidence of the tender work of God.  And that despite it all, I am still in the palm of His hand.  I believe it.  This realization filled me with such solace that tears flowed.


GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

That's a very positive, moving, and insightful way to understand the changes that you're experiencing as a result of the most devastating tragedy any mother can endure.
I hope that I, too, will some day believe that I am growing, rather than wasting away, from the loss of such an essential piece of my heart and soul.

DF. Nomemientas Gavilán said...

Looking poem D. H. lawrence, I found your blog, I have it in spanish and I was looking for the original poem in english, but I have found you (and the poem). I know what that means, deciding to die, my mother did the same, was in July 2009. Your son was 17 and my mother was 80, this is the big difference, you did not expect and I was waiting. This poem I put also in her grave and helped me understand her death. I still remember a lot and from here I send a kiss for you, because I know what it means to a decision by someone, but you also have to understand, it was the free decision of your son and my mother. Now they are with the unknown God.