During my visit to Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery last summer, Sheree Fitch spoke about her upcoming poetry book. She hasn’t written one for adults since In This House Are Many Women (1994). People have asked her why, and she’s said that it’s because she didn’t feel like she had anything more to say. Until now. Until the unexpected death of her 37-year-old son, after which her mother – who also lost a son – told her “You won’t always be this sad.”
After hearing Sheree’s story that day, I have thought of it many times – and marvelled at how that simple sentence can feel so comforting. And recently, more than ever, I have thought of it, and I’ve read her words, and I recommend them to anyone in need of a warm hug and a good cry.
The pen was heavy to lift. Then it became a wand of healing. A way forth. I wrote, wrote, wrote.
I read, read, read. As if books could save me.
These are my psalms of broken-openness.
You Won’t Always Be This Sad covers it all – every thought and emotion Sheree had and felt after the death of her son – it spares you nothing. And you don’t want it to.
Anger: “If I had a hammer / I’d shatter the stain glass window of daylight / kick the moon out of the sky...”
Sadness: “crying / this much / gives a person / an ice cream headache”
Hope: “The day you wake up laughing / is the beginning of the beginning again...”
Comfort: “those who are on the other side / are never very / far / away / they are / ever there / over there / waving / saying we’re fine just fine”
Gratitude: “The moments / I inhale the coffee grinds / pour water push brew / peel the orange / cross the road / where rooster crows / where donkey brays / where horses shudder / where lambs bleat / where blackflies bite / where dew sparkles / where I walk the labyrinth / the moment in that centre / when I can say / thank you thank you for the all / ALL of it”
Beauty: Sheree paints a picture of her home in River John and feels grateful that she has “a beautiful place to be sad in“.
As much as this book is about grief, it is also about love. (“Because we love, we cry.“) To grieve this big and feel this deeply, yet still see this amount of beauty in the world – enough to allow it to comfort you – one must have a big heart.
I can feel her love and joy for life in everything she writes. I look forward to her Tweets that so often take the form of poetry about the seasons/weather/birthdays/flowers/daily news/anything at all. Sheree Fitch is made of poetry; she has poetry coming out of her ears.
I have poems in my pocket / In a pocket in my jeans / Poems tucked Inside my boots / Poems in my dreams / Poems that r finished / Poems in my head / Poems for the living / Poems for the dead / Poems that r silly / Verse, perhaps, not art / My poems r my love notes / From my broken open heart — Sheree Fitch, Twitter, April 30, 2020
There are gifts and joy in the midst of it all.
Be kind! Stay well!