10 August 2009


Survival, they say, is an instinct. We make it through unimaginable things, one single breath at a time. The first wave of grief is like drowning. And then we surface, and figure out which way to shore, even if the only thing we can do there is collapse. Then we figure out how to get home, even if all we can do is crawl.

I do not know much, but I do know this: we live and go on because it is what we do.

It pains me to hear folks blame themselves, their bodies, their eggs, their uterus for a failed pregnancy, and yet, I know exactly how that feels. I know what it is like to say I am sorry, because it feels as if I caused it, like I failed.

And I know what it feels like to have a loss that feels somehow somehow as if it could have been avoided, if only, if only, if only.

And I know what it feels like to feel like an idiot for hoping, for wishing, for believing it might be possible in spite of all that I know and all that I have experienced. And I know what it is like to juggle the question of brave or crazy as I step up to try again.

Today I do not have many words of my own to share from my dark quiet place, where I am holding still and holding tight. So instead I want to share a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer that I came across long ago. I have found there is power in the act of asking myself the questions. It is almost as if I am asking myself: What still matters? Is my heart still open? Am I still here?

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

© Mountaindreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1999 All rights reserved


She asks:
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

I answer: yes, but sometimes I can only whisper.


Michele said...

"Yes" but I can only whisper.

So true, sister, so true. So very true.

A beautiful post...

just me, dawn said...

Kate what a beautiful post....thank you. I answer yes....no matter how I fear....

Kate said...

I will be saving this poem to read for months to come. Thank you.

This statement: The first wave of grief is like drowning. Wow, it gave me chills because it is EXACTLY how it feels.

Do you write professionally? If not, you should.

IVF 40+ said...

What a provocative and moving post and poem. Thinking of you, wishing for you, hoping with you.

IF Optimist, then... said...

Thank you dear Kate for sharing your thoughts and this poem with us. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with statistics, reality, anger, self-blame, frustration and even hope. I try to stay optimistic. I try to keep my heart "open" for the goal. So I will steel myself and stand next to you and hold hands with any other sisters at the edge of the lake and say "YES" until I am red-faced and hoarse.

Anonymous said...


Pundelina said...

Kate, you've a way with words and feelings.


Sarah said...

i have an answer for you kate, and since i so rarely feel like i have any answers when it comes to infertility, i'm going to share it with you:

definitely brave not crazy :)

I'm certain.

IVF 40+ said...

Hi Kate. I can't remember if I have asked you this already. Would you mind giving Sprogblogger the adoption agency you sent to me? I have anew computer with no way of recalling the website (and I can't remember the name).


K said...

Hi. Sorry to have been gone awhile. Love the poem. There has been so much loss it seems the past week in the blogs...it's hard not to just wander around in a daze and wonder what to do with all this stuff. Sigh....
Hope you are well.