Tuesday, September 23, 2008

for janet

One of my other mothers is dying.

I first met Janet when she was hired to be the ESL teacher on our team of middle school teachers in 1993 (or somewhere thereabouts). She came from a background of civil disobedience and power to the people and Pete Seeger songs and a hippy-live-in-a-bus-and-make-your-own-yogurt world. It was a world of 60's activism I was sorry I had missed. I doubt there is a kinder, gentler soul in all the world.

Winter Solstice of 1994 (I think) I played matchmaker during a party at my house. From that day forward, there was one entity.......

"Janet and JohnRoy"

When Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mother was there for her, providing both practical advice and hopeful inspiration. While my mother lay dying, Janet was there by her bedside for the last 36 hours, documenting it all in a notebook for me. She was the one who called and said, "You need to come. Now." I missed my mother's actual death by about 10 minutes, even still.

One of my other mothers is dying.
And I cannot be at HER bedside.
All I have to offer is a poem.
This one's for you, dear Janet:

one day

i will walk
from my castle

i will walk in silence until
i reach the precipice----
there will be no need for Hansel and Gretel’s desperate crumbs or
Orpheus's doubtful glance

perhaps not a cliff then, but rather a retrospective footpath
helixing down
around a balcony of passions
past a circus of trees
under a moon of souvenirs

and i will walk
shedding my cloak of outstretched arms
pulling back my veil of angular tears

the little princes will never know
that i am gone
because love grows backwards
and they will run---

run! run!

to the castle
to their futures


Anonymous said...

That's beautiful, and I'm, so sorry.

Jane-0 said...

At 2:15 today our beautiful Janet Brown walked through the tides & into the depths of lifes greatest mystery.

Thank you so much for introducing John Roy and Janet (what a gift!)

Jim Thomsen said...

That's so sad. And beautiful. And sad. And seautiful.

More than anything, my friend, I wish you a much-deserve break from having to contemplate mortality up close.

Anonymous said...

sue, that poem was so painfully beautiful. it sounds like we lost a wonderful person yesterday.

candy said...

sue,your mother was my friend and mentor and I loved her dearly in the short time I knew her. what a woman, now we have lost janet, I will miss her so, some people are such a force of life that you have only to close your eyes and you can feel the love and support and strength that they gave to us, and that is what we take and hold dear becouse that is what we have, they taught me to be strong and share my love becouse you never know how much someone else may need to know they matter. candy phipps salem oregon ywca breast cancer support group

suesun said...

Candy! I was so thrilled to see your name and your comments..... thank you so much.

Jane- thank you for keeping me in the loop.......

CotW- thank you.

Jim- did you mean to say "seautiful"? I'm pretty certain you did. I like it.

Daisy - so many things in this world are "painfully beautiful", don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, candy phipps here. was just looking through my e-mail and found your blog, hope you are doing well, I'm five years out from b cancer and was feeling down, your blog is inspiring. It reminded me how strong Char and Janet were, and how down to earth. with mentors like them I will prevail over all. xoxo