living in the layers

My experience with strict stay-at-home orders for the past eight months hasn’t been as difficult as I’d have thought. Each day moves quickly, bolstering my belief that time is an illusion.

I last left you in March with the information that my daughter, Aimee, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since that announcement she’s been undergoing an aggressive treatment plan. In non-Covid times this would be challenging. Anyone currently navigating complex medical appointments deserves a merit badge.

I’ve learned a lot from being on the receiving end of friends with the gift of communicating compassion and support beyond anything I expected. Aimee is doing well, so it follows, as her mom, I am, too.

At different times in my life poetry has been important to me, and this poem, written by a favorite poet, Stanley Kunitz, is today’s offering. If he speaks to you, I’d love to hear.

If this isn’t for you today, you never know. Maybe another time.

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

47 thoughts on “living in the layers

  1. “In my darkest night, when the moon was covered and I roamed through wreckage,”
    We have all been here, Debra.
    I’m happy for you that Aimée is doing well; and happy to hear from you ..

    1. Yes, my friend. You DO know, and I am so glad to be able to share this powerful poem. It really speaks to me, and I knew it would hold meaning for others. We do all know dark nights and “wreckage” comes to us all at some point in life, as well. Thank you for your very kind thoughts.

  2. Oh Debra. Not only do I feel your journey over the past 6 months, this poem relates to all of us. Yes, maybe at different times and different circumstances – but this relates to all of us. Thank you …. Be strong! 🙂

    1. I’m really glad you read the poem and it resonated, Frank. 2020 has been particularly complex for everyone, that I know. It’s helped me to know that when some days felt very long. We all have our tensions! Thank you, friend.

  3. And we always enjoy hearing from you, even when life has been unkind. None of us are done with our changes, until the end. But you handle them with grace and dignity, and hopefully, soon with a well daughter. God bless, Debbie! 🙂 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jo. We’ve had a lot “on our plate” this year, but I haven’t known anyone who isn’t struggling with something right now. All is well. Good to hear from you. 🙂

  4. Oh, it is good to hear from you Debra. And to hear your daughter is getting well again. I have thought of you often these past months. One line stands out in the poem for me… ‘When I look behind…’ I think if we look back at what we have been through and come through, and achieved, even in difficult times, this can give us immense strength for the future. All the best. xx

    1. It is good to see your name and face in my feed, Cathy. I have missed my blogging friends. 🙂 And thank you for your kind thoughts. Some journeys feel longer than we might like, but they are necessary, and it’s definitely true that attitude in difficult times is key to getting through! I’m so glad you gained insight reading this poem. I felt it was very timely given current anxiety and turbulence. We will definitely ALL have stories when we look back on this year. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, my friend.

    1. I’m so glad you took the time to stop by and read this wonderful poem, Karen. I was hoping it would have appeal. And thank you, too, for the “well wishes.” We are sensing the encouragement coming from others, and that’s a gift.

    1. It’s really lovely hear from you, too, Mary. I really think the poem is meaningful and speaks to so many of life’s “layers,” always, but particularly now. Thank you for your kind comment and thoughts towards us.

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for the poem. I truly loved it. So glad to hear from you and happy to hear that you and Aimee are doing so well. It’s funny, I was just thinking of you this morning and opened my e-mail this morning and there you were. Wishing you and the family all the best.

  6. It’s good to hear from you Debra. The comment about doing well because your daughter is, speaks soundly as a parent. The poem is beautiful, but not as beautiful as hearing you are both doing well. ❤

  7. Gail

    There’s so much in that poem, Debra. I love it. Thankfully, we don’t walk alone in life. I’m so grateful for Aimee’s healing, and to you for sharing this.

  8. Great to hear that your Daughter’s treatment is progressing well. Thank you for sharing the Stanley Kunitz poem – I really enjoyed it and will look to read some more of his work. Our thoughts remain with you – Keep well 🙂

  9. Excellent news about your daughter’s treatment. I would be the same as you. If my daughter is hurting, I am hurting. I think the saying is that you’re only as happy as your least happy child. But I love the poem you share with us here. We are full of layers and the more layers we have, the stronger and more blessed we are.

    1. Anonymous

      Hi Debra. I loved the poem. Just above my comment is roughwighting and Mancill and I say often that we as happy as our least happy child. I guess I haven’t seen it in print before!
      Thank you for staying in touch and sharing your journey!
      Love to you and Aimee💕💕💕

  10. I’m so glad to hear that your daughter is doing well. It must be difficulty for mother to go through medical process and treatment with Aimee. I can relate to this beautiful poem as I have gone throughvups and downs, physically and mentally during the past several months. In August, my daughter got me a puppy…
    So wonderful to read your blog, Debra. Stay well, stay strong.

  11. Anonymous

    Dear Debra Yes I totally understand the ups and downs! Especially at this time. You are all in our prayers. I loved poems they are usually very deep from within a person. May the Lord continue to give you peace and comfort in this emotional and very hard time. Much Love Debi

    1. Thank you so much, Philip. There were times this past season when I really didn’t think my energy and interest would return, but it did. We’re more resilient than we think, at times! I have missed knowing what others, my blogging friends, have been experiencing over the past several months. I always knew, even on our worst days, that others were going through very difficult times. Now I want to get caught up a bit. Thank you for your very kind words. Cancer treatments are brutal, everyone knows that, but my daughter has done so well. I’m relieved and grateful and we feel very fortunate. Time to go on living. Thank you, Philip.

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