In Jo's Blog

Pretty Indian girl in red, sitting in wheelchair smiling. Background two family photos on the wall.Everything reminds me of Moy Moy these days and the separation her death has imposed in our lives. So when W S Merwin died on March 15, I remembered his poem:


Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its colour.


Moy Moy weaves herself into everything I do. It’s uncanny. When she was alive, though utterly silent, she spoke through every move I made. Now she wakes me up each morning and she walks with me throughout the day, She holds my hand as I get ready for bed and she tucks me in each night.

Because I believe in eternity, when a soul leaves the earth, I think of those they will meet where they are now, from all the centuries of people who have gone before them. So I am imagining W S Merwin and Moy Moy bumping into each other this evening on some side street in heaven. Maybe they are eating a slice of pumpkin pie (Moy Moy loved pumpkin pie; Merwin loved the daily details). Maybe they are just comparing notes about their lives on earth and the homesickness that now, I hope, is over.

He wrote this poem too:

Thank you my life long afternoon
late in this spring that has no age
my window above the river
for the woman you led me to
when it was time at last the words
coming to me out of mid-air
that carried me through the clear day
and come even now to find me
for old friends and echoes of them
those mistakes only I could make
homesickness that guides the plovers
from somewhere they had loved before
they knew they loved it to somewhere
they had loved before they saw it
thank you good body hand and eye
and the places and moments known
only to me revisiting
once more complete just as they are
and the morning stars I have seen
and the dogs who are guiding me

Those mistakes only I could make.

I had a dream last night that Ravi and I were with Moy Moy at some school performance she was going to be in. Midway through, we found ourselves in a restaurant meeting friends and Moy was still about to go on stage. When we got back to the hall, her part was over and we had missed it.

When you lose a child, you go back over everything – over and over. It’s like an obsession. So many mistakes. So many things that could have been different, better, more perfectly aligned. You second-guess yourself, walk separation back, imagine different futures.

If only, if only . . .

But it is these lines which move me the most:

homesickness that guides the plovers
from somewhere they had loved before
they knew they loved it to somewhere
they had loved before they saw it

These lines reassure and comfort me; they affirm what we were to Moy Moy – her family and her dearest loves, in spite of not being born to us. We were still her all in all, we were that somewhere she had loved before she knew she loved it. 

And now, please God, she is in that somewhere she had loved before she saw it.

(Photo credit: Nicola Tansley)

Showing 4 comments
  • Maya

    Thank you, Jo. I have found there is nothing like poetry to speak to the experience of loss. Love the imagery of the needle and the stitches of color- the pain and the beauty all stitched together. ?

    • Jo

      It’s like the cushions you made us all for Nicholas, Maya. I think of him every day when we make our bed.

  • Kathleen Baldwin

    I feel the depth of ur longing for one who is gone … it visits me still with my thoughts of Mary ? the yearning for 1 more day ???

    • Jo

      It never goes away, does it, Kathy? I still feel such a deep sense of unreality in our new life.

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