Image by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash
I receive – and devour – the daily poems of the poet and storyteller, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. I first came across her work through Megan Devine’s weekly and monthly prompts. As is the way of the world, once you come across someone’s work, you see it quoted in myriad other places, and I am now a firm fan. Sometimes I write back a few lines after reading a poem that particularly touches me, and she always writes back. Sometimes I am so moved by a piece, I print it off and weave it into the various modules of the Maison de Tara training for new hospice volunteers. And sometimes I even weave pieces into corporate work.
Recently Rosemerry wrote a beautiful piece – below – about her surviving daughter. Rosemerry lost her eldest child, a son, to suicide less than a year ago. Her son would about be Julia’s age were they both still alive. Like me she has had other losses, though different ones. I still have my dad, and she doesn’t. She still has her husband, and I don’t. It’s a lot for each of us to carry and I marvel at her ability to express what is, in the moment, each and every day. I can only manage once a week.
Her poem is about the beauty, grace, textures, colours and contrasts that her surviving daughter’s presence brings to the world. Her beingness, the sense and sounds of her even when she is being quiet. Her alchemical skills in meeting the harsh bitterness of her world and converting it into something less harsh, less bitter, less bittersweet…. Such a precious gift. Such solace.
My older two have long left home. Megan left 6 years ago to boarding school in the UK, and Ben left 5 years ago after completing his baccalaureate. I know that life would feel different if I still had kids at home. It would feel easier in some ways, less harsh. And it would be harder in other ways. And while I think there would be more solace, more comfort, I also know that I cannot know that that would be true. Who knows what a life with kids’ daily presence might feel like. It feels like so long ago, almost three years, since I have had human voices other than my own on an ongoing basis. Of course I have had visitors and myriad pet sitters. I have Medjool most weekends (along with music-making), and I have had Ukrainian refugees. And I have my pets. But no kids.
And yet – I resonate with Rosemerry’s words.
The backdrop of Megan and Ben’s presence – even if from a different country – is soothing in the extreme. I don’t hear much noise. Just the occasional ‘ping’ on Whatsapp or Facetime. When Whatsapp pings five, six, seven times in quick succession, I know it’s Megan with a question that needs answering ten minutes ago.
For Ben, I have to send one or more “throw me bone!” request(s) (then eventually receive a 4-7 minute, thoughtful message back only when I have threatened him with an “I need to hear something from you”.
It’s not nearly enough, but I love it.
I love Megan’s messy messages and requests. The umming and ahhing over decisions she needs to make, when she has 99.9% made her mind up (or even 100.1% made her mind up) but still wants to hear herself talk things through. Her pride in pieces of work she has submitted. Her passion for living fully.
I love Ben’s reflective wisdom, his thoughts and insights on what he is reading and learning. His ideas and aspirations for research projects and practical work experience opportunities he is trying to pull off for the summer and beyond.
It makes me feel that I still have kids. Still.
Lines of music in my life above the bassline of loss and emptiness.
Celebrating My Daughter on the Last Day of Junior High
She is the one
who sings in her room
and she is the beat drop
the melody, the bass,
she is the soundtrack
that still fills the home
even when she says nothing at all.
And she is the maker
of chocolate desserts
the one who was given
bitterness and met it
She is the laughter
that rises in the dark.
She is the flare,
the generous spark.
She’s the dance, the dancer,
the stage, the shuffle flap ball change,
the pink pointe shoe
worn to the wood.
She is sweat and ovation,
she is barre and plié.
And she is the one who went to school
three days after her brother died.
She is raised hand and science lab,
t-ball and sketch pad,
she is one who thrives.
She is monarch and cocoon,
the bright wings, the wind,
she is the summer land.
She is the one who brings beauty with her.
She is story. Plot. The turning page.
The one with the pen
in her hand.
Find more of Rosemerry’s work here: