About Me

Thanks for being here! I am a mom of three (two girls, 15 and 13, and one boy, 9) and a teacher of many (thousands during my more than 17 years teaching high school English and Spanish in Philadelphia). Forever a student, I love learning - whether through talking to others, reading, watching movies and documentaries, or traveling. I also love running (slowly), hiking, and practicing yoga!

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Light is Shining Bright

My mom in LBI during the summer, 2012. 
My mom and dad recited e.e. cumming's poem I carry your heart ... to each other at their wedding 43 years ago, and for the last few months of my mom's life I noticed that my dad had placed the tattered paperback they had read from on her bedside table. I noted this to my mom one evening in early April as I sat beside her on the bed. "Yes ... I always loved Walt Whitman," she answered, slowly and in that slightly non sequitur way conversations with her had begun to have. "O Captain! My Captain!" I quoted, laughing that with all my years of studying literature this was all I could produce. My mom continued, "My light is shining bright." I reached for my dad's Ipad to search for the full poem and wrote in O Captain! My Captain! My light is shining bright. I may have also typed in Walt Whitman. Up popped his poem Miracles, below.


Walt Whitman1819 - 1892
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, 
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, 
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, 
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of
   the water, 
Or stand under trees in the woods, 
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
   with any one I love, 
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest, 
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, 
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields, 
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, 
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
   quiet and bright, 
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring; 
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, 
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with
   the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—
   the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

I do not know why this poem appeared instead of Whitman's more famous O Captain! My Captain!, though I imagine it was the line "the stars shining so quiet and bright." As my mom and I lay side by side for the rest of the evening, mostly in silence, I thought of the poem and my desire for a miracle. I was praying then, and continued to pray until the end, for a miracle to save my mom. I believed it could happen. On Sunday, the day before she died, I thought, "Maybe, just maybe, it will happen on my birthday (April 10th)." Instead, that was the day of her funeral. What does one do with this?

Well, I have started running again. Also, doing yoga. On Mother's Day weekend my sister, dad, and I, knowing it would be hard, came to the beach, and I was able to "wade with naked feet just along the edge of the water," as Whitman wrote. As I waded, dolphins appeared along the shore and swam along, playfully. The waves caught the sunlight just so and I tried to capture how beautiful it was with a photograph, but I couldn't. And as I walked my mom's line came to me and I kept repeating it over and over and over:"My light is shining bright, My light is shining bright, My light is shining bright." What does one do with such a miracle?
Me, my dad, and my sister in LBI Mother's Day Weekend. I love these people.

Mom, your light shined so brightly. We miss you.  We always will. 

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely story to get your blog going again. Glad to see you writing, Jenn :) Keep it up! and excited that you're running again!