Change and Loss

My mother had her 87th birthday this week. We had a long conversation. Two more of her peers–friends from my childhood, have fallen asleep in the past week. She is making plans to move out of the house we moved into just before my ninth birthday–52 + years ago, and into an elder community with provisions for graduated care as time goes by. Anticipating this, I wrote this poem some time ago.

You have always taught us that everything
in its earthly form will change.
So I am not surprised when I see it in a dream
But I wake up, if not weeping, still forlorn
at seeing my dead brother in a strange room
looking only vaguely like himself
and a beautiful tall and gifted young friend,
now with crippled, withered, truncated limbs.
But in the dream I am the lost one
and she makes light of the despair I feel
at having lost myself and my way out
of this dilemma.
I have again–as many times in dreams before,
lost my car–my means of transport, and as if it follows naturally,
my way in life.

Nothing is familiar.
Distances and obstacles grow before my eyes.
Friends are dying every week.
It is the old ones, dear ones.
When hometown friends are gone,
can it still be considered home?
Home is the place of being in communion,
and that is with persons.
It will be my mother some day–soon or later.
A call one day–your mother is ill,
is dying, has died. Come quickly.
And home–the house, the neighborhood,
still mine till now for walks,
for coming back to,
will lose its way of being mine–
No longer except in memory the place from which I went out
and to which I have returned
and gone out and returned again.
“My room” with the same paper on the walls–
and so on throughout the house,
the patterns I have followed without having to reconsider,
the habit of my feet, even in my mind a well worn path,
will be ploughed under for new paths to be worn
under the feet of strangers.

Do I weep now for loss that is to come?
Perhaps it has been happening all along,
and in this gradual way, will be a mercy.
The crossing from the substance which feeds but fades
to the communion that transforms us into its life
will always be saving us.

Fall 2004

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3 Responses to “Change and Loss”


  1. 1 Beth May 17, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Jane, I love this poem. It is so poignantly true – the place we went out from and returned to for most of our lives – it goes also when our mothers go. It has been happening slowly all this time, but suddenly we have to see it clearly. I am glad that we know about our true home where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt…

  2. 2 Cheryl June 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Jane, I enjoyed talking with you today at Holy Apostles. Embrace this change and all that comes with it knowing it will bring you closer to where you need to be. Sometimes, we must walk through it, trembling in fear and uncertaintanty and without wisdom or understanding, but knowing God is in His heavens and his love and mercy endurath all things. In many situations, that is all we are left to understand, but it is all we need to know. Go with God.

  3. 3 Dolly June 14, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I rejoice in the quiet triumph of grace in your last lines. Christ is risen!


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