Friday, December 13, 2013


Sometimes, but not always, the sorrow comes. Unbidden, it follows the recorded call from the school. We invite and welcome our community of seniors next Monday night for a potluck dinner followed by an informational gathering about college! The man's voice is cheerful and warm, and when I hang the phone up, I feel a laugh in my throat that rises to my lips but it's tears that burst out, peals of tears. Sophie walks around her room, around and around. I leave her there, to walk around, and when she sits down on the floor cross-legged and looks at me, I'm not certain whether she is looking at me or anything at all. Most days, I like to think that she is, she is looking at me and me at her, and on the days when sorrow comes, unbidden, I don't know if she is, if she's looking at me, and I hope she isn't, looking, doesn't see.

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)


  1. O, dear sweet Elizabeth...wish I could come around and just hug you. I don't comment here often, but I read you a lot...and you crack me open every time with your grace and your love and your life. You crack me open and the light shines in...

  2. I hear you, Elizabeth.
    I hear you and I'm here, standing with you on this bleak midwinter evening.

    I hope it gives comfort that there is always someone here, standing with you.

  3. Much love to you, we never know when something or some word will crack us open. <3

  4. This broke my heart. And yet I felt no doubt that Sophie sees you, and holds you as you cry, even if she's across the room.

  5. This is as magnificent as it is heartbreaking. Your ability to put such complicated feelings into words astounds me and inspires me. I always leave feeling hopeful.

  6. Those words, that last stanza, I remember singing in the church of my childhood. They are profound and they are beautiful and they speak of a great truth.
    As do your words.
    Sorrow is part of it all. Great sorrows and small. You do not dwell in them, but your acknowledgement of them is acknowledgment of existence and of life, as much as anything can be.

  7. I get caught at these moments as well. I imagine when Katie's sister marries and has children it will feel like a knife when I look at Katie. And it's not her fault.

  8. She is so delicate and lovely.

    Will it help you to know that I get this, and feel with you? When her class graduated last June, when the announcements came, as I sent out the gifts, when the freshmen went off to college, without Katie, I felt both the sweetness (for them) and the pain (for us). I am deeply sorry for all of the losses that Sophie suffers, and you and your family along with her. It hurts.

    That poem - we sang part of it in church last Sunday. Incredibly evocative in so few words. I'm sending love to you.

  9. Sending love to you and to your beautiful girl x

  10. Dear Elizabeth, sweet Sophie. My love.

  11. The words I write keep erasing making me wonder if I am meant to comment. I hold you and Sopie in my heart is all and agree with Angella that I believe Sophie sees you. Sweet Jo

  12. Only love can reach across the room (or the universe) and be as tender and sweet as a kiss on a baby's head or as mournful as a tear streaked gaze. It is love both given and received without a single word.

  13. perfect photo of Shopie framed by photos of her family - i like to think that she is and has been looking at it all, as it accompanied her through life, in the most gentle and loving possible way.



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