I’ve never written about the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal or the famous letter published just before she passed away from terminal cancer and which was a dating profile for her husband. I went on to read her books, but never have been able to talk about them. Still can’t in fact. But I do recommend Encylopedia of an Ordinary Life. As does Kerry Clare on Pickle Me This.
As a mother, I think one of the ten million things I started worrying about right after our daughter was born, was my own death. Not wanting to leave her too soon. And you see friends and family members who get cancer and find yourself saying, oh lord, let her see her kid(s) grow up. It’s morbid, I guess, thinking this way. But it’s real. Our daughter is now almost 20, which is hard to believe, but when I recently realized that at her next birthday she is no longer going to be a teen, I thought, okay, maybe I can give up that worry. And mostly I have. The worry is more about how I want to see her continue to grow and create amazing things and to fully come into who she is. A selfish thing. I don’t want to miss a single thing that she’s going to do. But she doesn’t really, really need me now. I mean, she’s perfect, in the way that daughters truly, mindblowingly are. And whatever it was that I have wanted to impart to her, she has received.
So, all that said, when I came across the last book of poetry by Helen Dunmore, I thought, nope, nope, nope. Can’t. But I did buy it and it’s beautiful and wise and quiet and good. And her daughter is so eloquent, saying:
“I think although her world got smaller, she couldn't go out so far afield, she continued to just see the beauty in everything - which I find very inspiring.”
“She just made the most of every single day until she died.”
My life’s stem was cut
by Helen Dunmore
My life’s stem was cut,
But quickly, lovingly
I was lifted up,
I heard the rush of the tap
And I was set in water
In the blue vase, beautiful
In lip and curve,
And here I am
Opening one petal
As the tea cools.
I wait while the sun moves
And the bees finish their dancing,
I know I am dying
But why not keep flowering
As long as I can
From my cut stem?
– from Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore
Why not keep flowering? In spite of everything that might impede you. In spite of obstacles and hindrances and frustrations and in spite of the way you feel invisible at times.
Why not flower because you are tired and unwell. Because you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. Why not flower because it seem so futile. Why not flower because the news is so distressing and because you are overwhelmed and overwrought and utterly spent.
Flower so that everyone knew that when you were alive, you were, in fact, a flower, and they will remember you as such.