Yesterday I finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, about how, at the age of 26, devastated by her mother's death and the end of her marriage and having lapsed into heroin and promiscuity, she sets off to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State.
She writes about her mother's death:
"It took me years to find my place among the ten thousands things again. To be the woman my mother raised. To remember how she said honey and picture her particular gaze. I would suffer. I would suffer. I would want things to be different than they were. The wanting was a wilderness and I had to find my own way out of the woods. It took me four years, seven months and three days to do it. I didn't know where I was going until I got there.
It was a place called the Bridge of the Gods."
Cheryl Strayed is a beautiful writer and her journey that summer from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Oregon is so much more than a tale of hiking. But after feeling stunned by what she'd achieved I realised that many women, many mothers I know, make that journey every day.
Some of those women are close friends, some are acquaintances or friends of friends; they are the mothers of children who are sick or have a disability or special needs. They are mothers of children who have a sadness or a pain that can't be wiped away with a wet cloth and a soft hand on their head. They are mothers of children who were born not the baby that was expected but loved and cherished even more for it.
These women get up every morning to a day that is unknowable to the rest of us. They get out of bed, put their feet into crust-mud hiking boots that are way too big for them, do up the red laces and go out into the world to battle for a place for their child.
They are the women who journey every day to the Bridge of the Gods. They make their way up through the snow mountains and down to the arid valleys. Sometimes they will see the sun hit the mountain with a shimmer that's meant for them and no one else. They will lie down at the end of the day not to sleep but to plot and plan that place in the world for their baby.
The next day they will wake with sore, blistered feet. But they will get out of bed, pull on the too-big boots, tie the red laces and begin that long journey to the Bridge of the Gods one more time.
Lovely post... and so true. I am constantly amazed at my friends who have children with special needs and the way that they carry themselves in the world without martyrdom and continue to carry hope for their children's future despite all odds. It really puts my own trivial concerns with my children into perspective... xxReplyDelete
I'm sitting in the library (free internet) in the small NZ Eastcoast town of Gisborne and you've made me cry. The young kid beside me giggling over youtube videos is shifting nervously, slyly looking at the woman crying beside him on the bench. More like this please, beautifully written.ReplyDelete
Inspiring post.....I keep hearing about this book it does seem to have a profound effect!!ReplyDelete
So true, so many women make that journey. What a beautiful, inspiring post Jody.ReplyDelete
Never heard of that oneReplyDelete
Sounds like an ineteresting read under ones sun
That was a really beautiful post.ReplyDelete
Your post was serendipty for me today. I just finished reading Wild, amazed at this young woman's courage and awed by her writing. As the mother of a now 28 year old young man with special needs, I've often wondered about the life that "might have been"--for both of us. Your post gave me a sense of pride that I haven't felt for a long time. Thank you.ReplyDelete
A true hero.Delete
Beautiful post. Now I must trudge on.ReplyDelete
See you later...Delete
Lovely, Jody -- thank you for that. Gotta go get a kleenex now....ReplyDelete
WOW!VERY TRUE................and YOU and I know one GRAND DAME that is doing that daily!Sounds like a very good read.............xxxReplyDelete
Lovely post Jody, a book to put on my "must read" list I think....ReplyDelete
chilling. in a good way. adding this book to my list.ReplyDelete
Thanks Jody! We are hiking a parallel but very different trail and it's nice to get a shout-out from the trail we wish we and our kids were on...it helps!ReplyDelete
Thinking of you Julie and calling across to your trailDelete
Well said, lovely post.ReplyDelete
OT, no pool I'm afraid but new baby on the way!4 little uns is going to make trips back to the bay area really interesting (as I'm sure you know )ReplyDelete
Jody this really sums it up. While we rail on about what seem like silly kid issues, some parents are struggling everyday. I truly feel for those parents and I don't know how they do it. My heart goes out to them.ReplyDelete
I'm often baffled by the strength of some mothers. I don't have any kids, so I'm sure it's all unknowable to me.ReplyDelete
The power of books - to stop you in your tracks and realise what lives other people lead.ReplyDelete
Wow...must read this. It sounds amazing!! xReplyDelete
Thank you for that. Just the kick up the backside I need today.ReplyDelete
Lovely post (and I really want to read that book). I'm struggling with my own health at the moment and it's good to be reminded that we all have our cross to bear in different ways.ReplyDelete
Beautifully written. I know a few such women and am constantly amazed by not only their endurance, but their ability to smile and enjoy life - to not be defeated, but enlightened. Amazing women.ReplyDelete
Beautiful post, Jody. And the book sounds like a good read. Thank you.ReplyDelete
I saw here interviewed on Oprah's new show awhile back, such an incredible journey--everything from the way she would pick up some money in between hiking to meeting her husband after the journey --just amazing! I will have to read it finally this summer, thanks for the reminder!ReplyDelete
xo Mary Jo
We are pilgrims on a journey,ReplyDelete
fellow travellers on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
~ Richard Gillard, "The Servant Song."
Yes, Jody, there are lots of amazing women who find it within themselves to do what they need to do. Every day. Every day. Every day. And there are lots of us who, as the hymn suggests, can be helping.
Blessings and Bear hugs!
Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)
I am an adopted daughter to a childless mother, a child given away by a mother too young. I am a step-mother to 3 young women but was unable to carry a baby to full term of my own. There are many shades of motherhood in my mind.ReplyDelete
Lovely and touching post Jody and Happy Mother's Day!!
This sounds like an incredible book. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Hiya doll, I saw your comment. I think when you click on my face here when I make a comment, it goes straight to my Google Plus page now instead of to my blog or profile page now. And if I recommend any other blogs I've been reading, you'd see those too, it's bloody annoying and I'm getting tired of the google plus page really. Might have to start putting my link in comments when I remember how to do that is, haha! But, I'll try and sort it out...hope your well xxReplyDelete
Thank you for the beautiful post, Jody. How true. I don't know what it's like for women who have children with challenges. I have friends who have kids with various disabilities. The worry never ends.ReplyDelete
I'm not quite sure what to say, but at least I can say in all honesty that my feet are pretty sore and not doing so well. I'm having to bike because my heel is bruised and my knee is giving me hell. I think we all have our journeys and parts of them can get pretty rough.ReplyDelete
Her surname is 'Strayed'? Can't make this stuff up!ReplyDelete
She did make it up! The name, not the journey...Delete
A beautiful,post which really showcases your talent for writing.ReplyDelete