poetry • art • marriage • momhood • faith

Memory – Stirred by Song – #captureyourgrief 2015

yellow leaf floating in a fountain

A little over a year ago, pregnant, I joined our church choir with the caveat that I might have to quit at any time due to my potential for complications and bed rest. The best case scenario would have had me singing through Easter and leaving when a nursing newborn kept me from practice.

But as fate would have it, I am still in choir.

* * * * *

On October 29, 2014, we stood at the back of the church, polishing a song for All Saints’ Day. A cappella, we sang:

For those
who walked with us,
this is a prayer.

I thought of John Blaise. I thought of Alexander. I considered how they never took a step of their own but “walked with” me every step of our days together.

For those
who have gone ahead,
this is a blessing.

I thought of those—especially the little ones—who were no longer with us…despite all our attempts to hold those loved ones close.

For those
[…] who lingered with us while they lived […]

I was reminded that as short as my little ones’ lives had been, they could have been much shorter. Every day with them was a lingering.

[…] this is a thanksgiving.

Lingering for which I was grateful.

* * * * *

Roughly an hour after I got home from that practice, Jan L. Richardson’s poem-turned-lyrics still ringing through my head, my water broke.

Amidst the nightmare of deja vu throughout the following days, I found comfort in “For Those Who Walked With Us.” It became my theme song for the season.

By the grace of God, I even found peace instead of tears when we sang it at Mass on All Saints’ Day, the day after I delivered my tiniest boy at home on Halloween night.

The tune was in my head that day when I stopped by the fabric store after church to buy materials to make a “lovey” bag for our boy’s tiny urn. It was on loop in my mind when my husband called while I was out to ask when would be best for the coroner to come by.

And after the coroner came to take our little boy, after waves of keening overtook me days later but before we buried Kolbe, while the boys were at school and my husband was at work,  I sang the song alone.

* * * * *

Last night our music director reintroduced “For Those Who Walked With Us.”

For those
who journey still with us
in the shadows of awareness,
in the crevices of memory,
in the landscape of our dreams,
this is a benediction.

My breath came short. My throat tightened.

The memories tied to that song nearly brought me to tears.

I embraced them like a friend.

* * * * *

Jan L. Richardson has graciously shared her poem “For Those Who Walked With Us” at PaintedPrayerbook.com. The piece has been set to music by composer James Clemens. The music can be purchased and sampled via World Library Publications.

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torch bearing quietly

I will not act out, will not
yell or curse or slam doors,
will not make a scene -- you
do not deserve such a chance
to make an example out of me
to be proven right since you
are not. Instead, I'll stand
at this street corner, raise
my hand high and clench that
light which yet remains. It
will burn brightly, quietly,
fiercely before fading as I.

Then I'll be gone but found.

©JAC 2005

Poetry by Julie Ann Cook!

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Love Like Weeds
by Julie Ann Cook
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