Gentle Awakening

Photo by RASJacobson, 2012

• • •

The first time I died

was in the hands

of a good friend.


I’d been bragging

about my new car, slick

and black as blood


while she stood tall

as redwood, a queen

in an apron, preparing


tea. Setting down the silver

kettle, she took my hand

to her cheek, soft as peaches


and like a school-girl cried,

My dear child,

Don’t you know

every toy


in the end.

• • •

Ever have someone tell you something simple that positively rocked your world? What was it?

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25 thoughts on “Gentle Awakening

  1. “Some people just have no lives and they’ll waste yours, too, if you
    let them.”

    That was said in a casual conversation via email a little more than a year ago. I started writing my first novel within ten days.

  2. Yup, 12 years ago when my ex and I first got separated, we had just moved to Denver, I knew no one, no family there, no job, and 3 kids aged 6, 3, and 14 months. I was worried what to do next, how to live on my own, how to manage these little ones 90% of the time on my own, and my sister who was a divorced Mom sad, “It’s just like first going into a swimming pool, you just have to jump in”. And that’s what I did. I’ll never forget.

  3. Beautiful, pardner. Last week, I was beating myself up over what George Orwell would call a thought crime. As I went on in anguish, a dear friend said to me, “El! You’re HUMAN. Now you know it for a fact. And if you ever forget it again, get the word ‘human’ tattooed on your body.” This made me laugh AND feel so much better.

    1. We do tend to rake ourselves over the coals, do we not? Maybe we should get tattoos together. I’ll get the “HUM” and you can get “AN.” 😉 Or something. Between the two of us, we seem to make something pretty good.

  4. What an amazing poem, and question. I was pretty rattled when someone told me I couldn’t legally buy Kinder surprise eggs in the U.S.

    LOL Kidding aside, I did a short story in college (as part of my final senior project) based off of the Top 10 most memorable things anyone has ever said to me. Each chapter was based on a true line. One was “boys don’t like fat girls.” I’m thinking of turning it into a longer piece…

    1. Julie! That sounds amazing! Like beyond amazing. Like maybe I should delete your post before someone steals that idea. What a great idea! I hope you do follow through because no one could tell those stories like you. My mother once told me to marry a man who loves me more than I love him.

      I think she might deny that she said that, but she did, in fact, say it once.

  5. Great question! I am generally a positive person, looking for the best in people. I then heard “People will disappoint you.” Unfortunately it is often true!l

    1. Aw Kim, it’s true. People will disappoint you.


      …other people will surprise you.

      At least that’s the way things have generally worked for me. Sometimes strangers have helped me in ways that I would have thought closer friends could have or “should have” during different times in my life. That said, I’ve been surprised by the people who have come to my assistance when I’ve needed help. It definitely hasn’t been the people I’d always thought it would be. And that does rock one’s world.

  6. Poignant, Renee. I love those simple, world-rocking messages. An ex-boyfriend once told me to keep my eyes on the road ahead. He was speaking literally, but the words stuck with me and helped me get through our breakup. Glance back, but don’t fixate on the past. There’s a whole new road and world ahead.

    1. Sweet August! Like you, I am grateful for each day’s many blessings. But sometimes I do look back. I know someone who would like me to stop looking back, but that serves his purpose and not mine. So I look back. Each August. I don’t care what he thinks. I don’t think I’m fixated or stuck. I allow myself one day of mourning: one day of grief and then I leave it behind so I can move forward. But I’ve never been wholly able to shake my August mess. Meeting you has been wonderful because you are a whole new wonderful August not filled with regret.

  7. I like Gretchin Rubin’s point that it’s not what we do (or don’t do) once in a while that matters, it’s the every day stuff that counts. In other words, it’s okay to mess from time to time. It made more sense when it read it last night in The Happiness Project.

    1. Agreed, we tend to focus on the BIG life events but it really is the little kindnesses we extend to each other on the day to day that really matter. Such a good point. Can you believe I haven’t read that book yet? Duh. I think that shall be my next book club selection.

    1. Yes, I imagine many people found this piece to be cryptic. And perhaps it is. Sometimes I feel like everyone knows exactly who I am talking about — but then I remember, they don’t. You don’t know about this person who rescued me with these words. I wonder if she recognizes herself. 😉

  8. Hi Renee. Such an amazing poem. Lots of great comments here, too. That advice your mom gave you about marrying a man who loves you more than you love him, I’ve heard that advice before, too, and it’s something I wanted for my own daughters, too!

    I mentioned you in my blog post today, along with your link. I’m so glad you left a link to Nina Badzin’s Twitter series on Amber West’s blog post. Both Amber’s post and Nina’s have been super helpful to me!

    1. You’d heard that advice before? I thought that was the wonkiest advice ever when she said it to me. But I kind of understand it now. Maybe. She meant if you marry someone who loves you to pieces, you will never have to worry about being hurt, right? Because that person will just love you and support you. But at the time was all: Whaaaat? 😉

      Thank you for mentioning me. I didn’t see a pingback, so I’ll have to bounce over and look. And yes, Amber and Nina are two of the many wonderful women bloggers in the blogosphere. Truly. So smart and so supportive.

      1. Yes, that’s what your mother meant, thinking you’d never get hurt. My oldest daughter divorced her first husband. He wasn’t committed to her like a husband should be. He always put himself first, wasted money (even what she made) and caused financial hardships. She lost so much weight, we were worried sick about her health. Leaving him was the best thing, and now she’s married to a gem of a man, who lives for his family (they have a baby) and makes many sacrifices like any responsible married person who’s committed to making their marriage work should do. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter works, too, and does her part.

        I’m happy she has a husband who loves her more than life itself! And she loves him back. I think every mother wants a spouse like that for her children.

        I don’t know if Blogger even has pingback. If it does, I don’t know how to do a pingback. Sorry about that!

  9. Well, your poem just rocked my world, actually! There’s a saying I think of occasionally, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well, no one wants to be THAT strong!. My friend Judy’s mom once commented on how she undoes her own good doing, but she put it in such a way that decades after the woman’s death, it still slays my friend and she never moves too far past it: “If you were a cow, you’d kick over your own milk bucket.” Ow, on so many levels. Fortunately, she showed me a childhood photo of herself (when I was guessing that she was a sunshiny kid with freckles and be-ribboned pigtails), and except for the ribbons, I was right on the money but more importantly, could see very clearly and thus honestly comment that she was loved to pieces by whomever had gotten her ready for that photo. Words. They really do have power –too much, sometimes..

    1. Wow, that is the best response I think I have even received to one of my poems. Metaphors are amazing things. And, if you don’t mind, I think I will borrow that comment from your friend Judy’s mother the next time I have a student who is self-sabotaging him/herself.

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