Monday, May 20, 2013

"Steps Almost Straight"

I'm coming up on a season that has been a difficult one for me in recent years.  For a variety of reasons, I've come to associate summer with loss.  It's a time when several of those who were extremely important to me have died, and I can't imagine ever not feeling a renewed sense of sadness at the memories of their loss that the warm weather always brings.

Time has changed the way I cope with those feelings, though, as it does for almost everyone, I think.  It's a highly personal experience, one that no timeline or trajectory can adequately assess.  People who tell you, "the first year is the hardest," or who talk about Kubler-Ross's stages of grief and identify which one you're supposedly in (as if you didn't already know)...  they mean well, but they know nothing at all about the realities of loss.

Or they do, and they simply don't want to be brought back there.

It's not something that can easily be put into words, the experience of loss and the adjustments we find ourselves forced to-- reluctantly, painfully, angrily--make.

I rediscovered the following poem by Emily Dickinson several months ago, and it has been on my mind ever since.  I think it sums up the way we all struggle to adjust to darkness in our own ways, to enable Life to step almost straight.

We grow accustomed to the Dark --
When light is put away --
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye --

A Moment -- We uncertain step
For newness of the night --
Then -- fit our Vision to the Dark --
And meet the Road -- erect --

And so of larger -- Darkness --
Those Evenings of the Brain --
When not a Moon disclose a sign --
Or Star -- come out -- within --

The Bravest -- grope a little --
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead --
But as they learn to see --

Either the Darkness alters --
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight --
And Life steps almost straight.


  1. A beautiful reflection (and I love the poem).

  2. Thank you! I know you can relate...


Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."