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After posting this poem and photo of my mom and me, I made a greeting card of it and sent it to my beautiful mother because she is alone in the nursing home now, quarantined to her room for almost two weeks. The loneliness is crushing, so I call her every day to check on her, to remind her that she is not alone, that I am only one phone call away if she needs me. I sent the card to her along with the Easter basket I made for her, her favorite banana bread and five new books, because she is reading to pass the time in her isolation. After checking the tracking on the delivery of the Easter box this morning, I called her and sat with her while she opened the box and the card. After she read the card, she asked me to read the poem out loud to her. When I finished reading it to her, she kept saying: “Thank you, honey. Thank you, honey.” 

There is some incomprehensible grace that gave me this moment with her this morning, that made it possible for me to read one of the poems I’d written many years ago about her, in the middle of her isolation and my love for her. I believe that love makes everything possible between us, and that grace announces its presence even when and where love has been most challenged between us. This moment we are living is a terribly challenging moment for all of us. These days are hard, and the illnesses and the losses and the isolations are hard, day after day now. Learning to hold ourselves and one another through this moment is asking so much of each one of us, and yet the ways we show up and offer the love or tending that we can offer can change the moment, can remind the people we love, and also remind ourselves, that we are not alone within it all. It astonishes me that no matter how old we get, if we’re lucky, we still keep learning how to love better, or deeper, or more freely, or with less fear. Sometimes, most times, loving makes grace possible.

Please go gently today. Please love when and where you can, gently, especially those people you know are isolated or afraid or vulnerable right now. I say it all of the time, my second oldest prayer, and I will keep offering it out to each one of you: I hope that love is holding you, that grace is keeping you and that you are with people who hold you, gently, as we find our way. Love and grace, love and grace to hold us all.


My mother is most beautiful 
after losing herself in her garden,
on her knees, hands in the dark earth,
tending gently to things growing
half an acre from our house.
Just beyond dusk, she’d walk the grass
toward us, barefoot, a basket of growth 
gathered in her arms, rinsed in the cool water 
from the back wall hose.

One evening she called me out to her,
bit into a tomato so red its
flesh held the undertone of purple,
and then offered it to me.
I was twelve, shy with the heated 
pulp filling my mouth, still warm 
from the day’s stretch of August sun.
Dark coming on, my mother gleaming,
fireflies in the air above our fields.

© 2011 Dora E. McQuaid

All peace to each one of you. Dora

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