I just finished a book; this, by one of my favorite poets, preceded the story.
It’s funny how I gravitate toward books about the broken hearted and the weary. Without knowing what the contents will be, I’ll pick them out, lured in by the title or the cover – I never read the synopses or reviews – and perch them on a desk somewhere, sometimes for months, until gravity pulls me toward them. The book in my hand is like a message; as though my soul somehow knew I needed to read the words. Not any earlier. Not in the distant future. It seems as though I pick them up and read them when I need them. I devour books in those moments; not knowing how hungry I was until I begin and realize I was famished.
I’ve been quiet here. Have you noticed? It’s okay if you haven’t. The world is busy and so are our little lives. I’ve been trying to figure out where mine fits in. Where my writing and this blog fits in.
I haven’t really known where to go since my last post. The one where I revealed one of my darkest truths. The one where I decided to spill it out like a scattered mess upon the floor, without sweeping it back under a rug; leaving it out for anyone to stumble upon.
Yes, now you know — if you’ve been reading along with me for the past few months (for which I am so grateful…) — now you know that I’m a little bit of a broken bird. The one you might discover when you look out your window in the morning. Over your coffee with your sleepy eyes, you see it hopping along your patio. You think it might be hurt, because of the way that it is moving slowly and deliberately; because, although it is moving through the sunrise, it carries within it some pain that you cannot decipher. A broken wing? A wounded talon? You are not sure. But it is there.
And in that stillness of the morning, when it is just you and the bird and the sunlight, you stop to think that all of it — the things like the Orlandos of the world and the guns; the Stanfords and all of the injustice; the crocodiles and tragedies, gorillas and calamaties; summertime with ice cream that melts and babies that are forgotten in backseats; the race for a president and the race to somehow look away from it; the broken bird mirroring your own broken spirit — all of it, it must mean something.
It must be bigger than the pain and the dying and the breaking. In all of it, there has to be some beauty weaved throughout; even if faint and fragile, like the most delicate of silken threads binding the whole mess together into a mosaic we cannot appreciate until we rise up to earn that eternal bird’s eye view…
The beauty must be there.
If not, how could we go on living? How could the little, broken bird go on with its slow foraging in the grass thick with morning dew, if it did not believe that there was something worth discovering?
I don’t know why I told you I was raped. I have spent the whole of my life trying to run away from that truth. Building a life that had nothing to do with the girl I was at fourteen, sixteen, nineteen. I spent all of my twenties trying to forget her. I brought three babies into the world and have tried to convince myself that I was enough to teach them to stand up tall and do good things.
But here is the thing about broken birds and broken people with wounds they try to fly away from: though they heal, the scars remain.
I keep wondering if these three, perfect people who love me in a way that is greater than any I have ever known, will one day realize that I am more than this woman who pours too much cinnamon into the oatmeal and reads stories in silly voices and will willingly linger in their beds at night when they ask, waiting until they’ve fallen asleep to cry silent tears at their tanned, golden skin and their tiny feet, perfectly crossed, waiting for the whole of it to just fall apart.
When will the moment come, the moment when they open their eyes to see that I was a girl first, before I became their mother?
Do you remember that moment, the one where you suddenly realized the people you loved had a life before you were born?
I don’t know why I’ve told you those things. I don’t know why I want to bare my brokenness when all of my life I’ve tried to hide it away.
Maybe I am tired of hiding.
But more than any of that, I feel as though I am being called to rise. It seems that I have poured forth from a well buried deep beneath the layer of solid limestone and tangled roots, and now that it has found release, it spills out like a cascading fountain.
It is not despair; it is liberation.
And now that I have told you some of my darkest truths — that I am a mother who has known great injustice and deep sorrow, a mother who has worked through postpartum depression, (I wrote a little about that here), not once, not twice, but three times, now — because I have told you these things, how I can stop now?
How can the little bird in the morning light give up its sunrise song, just because it is carrying a broken wing?
If you want to stay here and read these stories — the ones that might break your heart a little bit in the way that the bird on your windowsill in the morning touches a place in your spirit you didn’t know existed — I welcome you in.
It is true, I am the person who always carries with me just a touch of sadness. The person who hears the news and weeps. The person who reads heartbreaking books and sings quiet songs that were written from the inspiration only great pain can deliver.
But I am also the person who believes in the beauty. Who seeks it at every turn, even when fumbling in the darkness. Who brought three children into an aching world because I believed with great conviction that there is purpose in the pain.
I am the person who weeps for a broken world not because it is bleeding, but because the suturing back together is just so damn beautiful.
Because in spite of the great chasms and calamaties, I know that the sun will rise and the little broken birds will be singing.
It’s okay if you need to look away. I understand. I will continue to love you and wish you peace.
But I am going to stay here and sing my tune, because I believe that there is someone out there waiting to hear it. Maybe you were once broken, too?
I’m going to try, at last, to rise up and touch the sky.
And if you’d like stay here, I invite you, too, to believe that your little broken wings can fly.
With love from one perfectly imperfect soul to another,
The book I just finished reading is We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. It is a work of heartbreakingly beautiful fiction, inspired by a true tragedy. I highly recommend it, you know, if you enjoy stories that make you sob and hope all at once.
10 thoughts on “Broken Birds Keep Singing: Parenting & Writing After Grief”
Aimee, tears are pouring down my face. I can’t imagine how you felt putting truth that is so full of pain out there. I know how I felt putting postpartum feelings out and that is so so small in comparison to what you have survived. Your words emanate cyberspace and I am so blessed by your heart, always beautifully expressed. If people write without a touch of sadness, I am not interested. Sister on. All the love from way up north.
Keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll be here reading about every step. Writing is such a crazy process that brings healing and sorrow and liberation and fear–all at once. As long as we stay true to ourselves in what we do here, everything else that should follow, will follow. All sorts of hugs and love your way, friend.
You Aimee are an inspiration. I so love and weep each and every time I read your writing and I can’t thank you enough for letting us all into your life. I relate to so much of it and cannot get enough of your truth.
Wow, thank you for this. ❤
Your words, always having me teary eyed or nodding along in agreement. There is so much of this that I can relate to. I’m glad you’re writing because like you said, someone may be searching and waiting to read this, to give them hope, give them peace. It may also make them feel brave to write about their own experience. It’s bloggers like you that make me inspired to keep sharing and keep writing. So please do keep writing, take the breaks that you need, face things as you want to while moving forward. Sending you hugs as best as I can through here dear friend.
There’s so much to say in response to this vulnerable post but I can’t find the right words. Your painful story is where your beautiful writing stems from and I’m so grateful to be a recipient of the grace you display in each thoughtful word. I will definitely be following along on your journey! There is healing to be found here. You are a lovely soul, Aimee!
Unfortunately, life is sad and painful and there’s a strange comfort knowing that people share in that awareness. By sharing your painful truth, I know, without a doubt, you’ve changed the course for at least one person. For baring your broken you’ve encouraged someone else to share their story, to let open wounds turn into scars. They won’t go away but there’s some healing taking place.
I might be slow to read and I might miss posts but it’s never because it’s too painful, our reality is painful, at least your writing offers some beauty, some hope when it feels like there’s none.
Thank you for being you, for being brave and when your children learn who you are, who you’ve been, I know they’ll be Just as inspired and as in awe as we are.
Love this Aimee. Thank you for your vulnerability, purity and truth. I’ve been so focused on motherhood and other side of blogging for some time now I yearn to get back in touch with my writing roots. Thanks for the gentle reminder.
And yes, I do know that feeling of being immersed in a book and devouring it without realizing how famished I was. I understand it too well.
Hugs to you my soul sister.
Angela, thank you for offering such kind and supportive words. I am so glad we have connected with each other. You are a beautiful writer and mother; I am in awe of all that you do so gracefully.
Somehow I stumbled upon you today. I’m not quite sure how but I was meant to find your blog today. Your raw truth is so inspiring. Mothering is a messy and awesome world, I wouldn’t change it for a second. Sometimes though I am so overwhelmed by all that it is I can’t breathe- the love for my girls and wanting to do right by them is beyond intense and a feeling not all relate to! I feel that here and am so thankful to find that connection.
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