Deep in the darkness, beyond twilight and hours from the ease of day over the horizon, night looms long and heavy.
Trees stretch out high towards the midnight canopy, faint towers of white, branches tangling, clacking in the breeze. A mother wanders, hands outstretched, feeling for support and safety, longing for a trail, eyes unable to adjust. Tears have streaked her face, perhaps fresh, perhaps drying now. Her lips are bitten raw, her mind tired and fuzzy. This darkened wood, an unknown territory, yet another plateau in a timeline that seems to include world after world of unknowns, of confusion, of adaptation, of adjustment.
The wind howls in the night, she wraps her arms around herself and sinks to her knees, snow clinging to her cuffs, creeping into her skin. She closes her eyes to the darkness and cold, trying to regain some foothold on a place long ago, a secure moment, a happy day, a safe space. Those safe spaces feel so far away, lost in some distant fog, distorted and foreign.
She lifts her head, opening her eyelids to the blackness before her. This wood, this night, this cold, this darkness is grief. This penetrating loneliness, this unfamiliar ground, scattered with hazards and obstacles, fallen logs and branches, mounds of snow and lost trails, this is the world of burdened mothers, plagued with loss but trying to move forward, stumbling in the dark.
But in these woods, these deep dark menacing woods, in the distance, she blinks her eyes in disbelief. Far off through the trees, like the gentle light of fireflies, a glow penetrates the night. She lifts herself from the cold ground, her stiff hands, numbly pulling herself through the brambles. She wanders towards it like a beacon, towards the glow in the woods, where surely there must be some semblance of warmth, of safety, of comforting arms to wrap around her, a thick blanket that can unfurl over her weakened shoulders and soother her wearied soul.
It’s recently come to light that one of my pieces, a desperate tale of backsliding and pain, posted here on this blog under the title Footing Lost has been approved and published by the site Glow in the Woods.
Glow in the Woods is a gentle place, a calm and quiet and unassuming shelter in the night, a warm cabin in the darkness and storm, a place for bereaved parents of all kinds to speak and to listen and to quietly sip tea by the fire as glowing reflections dance about our cheeks and hands. All are welcome to share and to grieve, to hear and to speak, and to gain some strength before stepping back out into the snow, in the hopes that maybe daylight is near and a familiar path can be found.
I am honored to be published on this site among authors with such a lovely grasp of words and language, able to paint so true a portrait of themselves, of their pain and their loss, and often their resilience. My post can be found on the main page. It is the third submission.
I look back on those desperate moments, the days that inspired such pieces, and I remember so clearly the ache in my heart and the lump in my throat, the desperation for comfort that lay hidden somewhere I couldn’t find for weeks. I still feel the sting, and I have not forgotten that hurt. I will not forget that hurt, nor the sweet, sad reason for it. I won’t forget the brief and humble life I came to know for so short a time.
But I will not lose sight of my present, my now. I will not forget that I am here now, on a blissfully lazy Sunday, having just passed 26 weeks pregnant. I spend a few morning hours lounging in the sunny living room, curled up around a book and my protruding belly, feeling swift kicks and nudges and embracing each one with my whole heart, thinking, Oh, how much I love you already.
I am reading a novel called ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey. It seemed to be a fluffy fairy tale of a story, marketed as the type of novel I wouldn’t likely pick up. In truth, it is such an easy it read it practically reads itself. That being said, scattered in amongst the magical tale lie moments of an all too familiar hurt, one that pierces my heart with a shiver of memory.
“She should have cupped the baby’s head in the palm of her hand and snipped a few of it’s tiny hairs…..She should have looked into it’s small face…..She should have allowed herself that grief. It was a child, after all….Pinched face, tiny jaw……that much she had seen and wept over because she knew she could have loved it still.”
This depiction doesn’t ring true exactly to my own experience, but the sentiment, the longing, the desperation and regret speak truth. Perhaps, a tiny life lost is my own source of light, my own source of a flickering glow in the woods. I have a steady gait through the trees now, and a confidence and security I wondered if I would ever regain. I’ve found a worn trail to follow, and pause only to gently caress my belly, cherishing the movement and the life within. There is a connection between us all, between past and present, between the life lost and the life flourishing presently.
I am grateful, and I am happy, and I am lingering in quiet positivity, doing my best to stray far from the darkness towards a familiar glow in the woods.
“Love is not consolation. It is light.”
― Simone Weil