Written for the Homegoing Services of Jenny Edmonds by her son, Theo Alan.
One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.
― John O’Donohue
P.S. All of your intuitions are true.
― David Whyte, from FAREWELL LETTER
Hers were the first eyes I ever looked into.
My voice was the last she heard.
When the magnetized pull
shifts inside your compass,
how do you locate yourself
between the sounds of woods in rain?
A patch of early early spring daffodils pulled me
to the creek side.
In the water,
the tender toughness of the bright yellow petals
showed a reflection of us sitting together
inside the ancient glow of stardust
finally crawling to reach us
over an unfinished Appalachian ridge
Under creaky boards of a familiar front porch,
tucked away on a wandering shoulder-blade hillside,
we huddled between painted, raw wood porch posts.
Shucky beans threaded a gentle stretch
over our heads.
Sweet smells of wet dirt
hanging on a pile of fresh from the field melons
I found myself being shaped into the same grin
I had come to know
A grin so precious and curious
that gratitude for all the affection
I’d ever known in the world,
wrapped me inside a well-loved, tattered quilt.
Placing one arm around my back,
her other hand reached forward to cover mine.
Squeezing ever so gently,
through clarity and love she said…
“Mommy’s beloved boy, I’ve stepped ahead of you.
A different walk than you’ve known before.
My guiding hem, slipping from your hands,
must be found within now.
Let this be comforting to you.
Let this be revelation for you.
we no longer need bend
to the limits of air.
All our talks, questions, and songs
are fused back into starlite.
Mommy’s caring gaze and healing touch
are yours now to share with people who need them.
Whether it be the person reflected in the mirror
or in the face of a friend.
Please remember, too, what I taught you,
— if you take the time to notice,
everyone is a mirror.
Son, we all need
grace, love, healing, forgiveness, laughter, and kindness
— this is where joy lives
— this is where you will also find memories of me.
I have surrendered my journey
to the untamed rush of energy
flowing through a new kind of music.
They are songs lifting me
beyond the limits of air.
As your mother,
I know your open heart
and unselfish imagination
understand that this moment
is not a suffering that must be endured.
This raw moment is a slipping glimpse into the unknown.
This moment is your reunion with invisible loss.
It is my body’s last gift to you.
The unknown is always with us, son… always walking beside us.
Do not be fearful of it.
Befriend it again.
It is your guide to the wisdom
held within the awakened, untouched lives of all your choices not made.
This moment is your strong, deep foundation from which to step into the next part of your own journey.
Still, I know, too,
you may experience this moment
This does not worry me.
Over the years, I’ve been awe-struck
by the creativity you time and again mustered
in navigating all wilderness frontiers placed before you.
From early days, I also realize
that life forced you
to acquire this well-earned skill.
As we journeyed together,
there were times I did not know
how to protect you.
are on redeeming journeys of our own.
You taught me that.
Remember what I taught you.
In wilderness, deepness is dependable.
(that mystical capability you have
to somehow walk lightly
through heavy places)
… is dependable.
Now, is not a challenge to be solved.
Now, especially, is time to release
what your mind thinks it knows.
Return to your beautiful, courageous imagination.
Go deeper and deeper until you have embraced
the fierce decision of this hard moment
— to transfigure the hardness back into softness.
A softness known to every cool wet seed,
turning in what feels like hot scorched earth.
Even before breaking through dirt into sunlight,
seeds are already capable of everything.
They do not depend on the words of others
to declare them worthy.
Son, I assure you,
there are no words… big enough…
to name the journey of a flower.
I hope you find a soothing comfort
here, too, in this…
Mommy’s faith and love
were the North Star I believed them to be.”
As she lifted with threaded sunlight
between the sounds of woods in rain,
Her warmth touched my face.
Old songs we once sang together
in that little concrete block church
down by a timid creek
began climbing up the mountain
to travel home beside her.
As I followed them up,
her whisper snuck up on my ear
with one last kiss…
“please know my precious boy,
you were made worthy to love,
and to be loved in return…
if it were not so, I would tell you.”
Between the sounds of woods in rain,
our earth dance
tenderly let loose
the dancers from the tune.
Between the sounds of woods in rain,
she left me feeling capable.
Capable of making fierce decisions
that honor the untamed rushes of energy,
found in the flow of new music.
Capable of transfiguring hardness
into the softness of being a cool, wet seed
Turning and finding it curious
that some still believe
we have words capable enough
to name the journey of a flower,
or words worthy enough
of the honesty