I adore Mary Oliver and her poem, “I Have Decided” (from A Thousand Mornings, Poems). When I read this (or much of her other work), I feel understood. Yes, that’s what I mean to say —what I think —what I believe —want to believe… Yes, I’m following you. This is a precise capturing of complicated thoughts and feelings distilled into what feels to me like having the best ice cream sundae with a cherry on top on a sunny day where everything is clear and you’re with your favorite people.
I love that such big ideas are expressed in so few words. There’s nothing like reading something that resonates and feels true at exactly the moment I need to receive those words. They swirl around in my head, reaching into things I need or want to think about, or work on. They inspire me and answer questions I have and raise more questions, too. Gratitude to Mary Oliver.
Love and peace,
An excerpt from a poem, “A Lament for the Missing” written at 441 West 49th Street, Apartment 13, New York, NY 10019
on 9/18/2001 ©Elana A. Halberstadt
When we say the missing, we mean everything we have lost.
Everything that was supposed to be.
Everything we’ll never have.
Weddings and anniversary celebrations. Birthdays. Descendants.
Beyond the monumental life events, it is the mundane, everyday moments we
will miss the most.
The moments of the missing.
A dinner table with an empty seat.
A car parked without an owner to claim it.
When we say the missing, we mean the ones left behind have been deprived a
One more kiss.
A phone call to remind them to buy milk on the way home.
We mean children whose parents will never tuck them into bed, or tell them a
hold them to reassure them that the world can be a beautiful place.
We mean the photos and mementos covered in dust.
When we say dust and ashes,
We mean the concrete, the documents, and the souls devoured in flames.
When we say the missing, we mean what a miracle to survive.
We mean the near-misses.
The missing of being there that morning.
I was late that morning. I went to vote. I took my kid to school. I was on vacation.
I took a different flight.
I wasn’t there, but I could have been.
The lucky ones who escaped down countless floors that we cannot stop
ask themselves, How did I get out? Why me?
We all ask ourselves,
Why am I saved and not the others?