Slice of Life: Stitching a Life Back Together


by W. S. Merwin

“Your absence has gone through me
Like a thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

The last official weekend of summer was bittersweet. My son was home, and we had company all weekend. Our days were filled with hiking, swimming, and napping. Our evenings began with suppers outside by candlelight and ended long past midnight around our fire pit. There were moments of laughter, but more moments of tears, as the loss of his dear, beautiful Julia is still a fresh wound. His heartbreak is palpable and visible in his face. But as we sat by the fire Friday night, I could feel his relief to be in our backyard, surrounded by his family and friends. I, too, felt a sense of peace start to return. This line, from “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” by William Butler Yeats, came to me:

“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping

“Dropping slow” seemed to me exactly the way to describe the process of trying to stitch your heart and life back together without all the pieces. He’ll be putting his heart back together for years to come; maybe for the rest of his life. I’ll be there to help him with each stitch.

This slice was difficult to write. It feels much too personal for a blog that is supposed to be about teaching reading and writing. And yet, a slice is “a simple way to practice what we ask of students—to write…a small sliver of your ordinary life.”  I am grateful to be part of this community and to have a place to share this writing, which seems so far removed from my original mission, but which was so necessary for me to write.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

22 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Stitching a Life Back Together

  1. Thank you for sharing your slice. I agree this space has become more than a place to write about teaching reading and writing. My thoughts are with you. I know your son will stitch his life back together – how could he not with support like you?


  2. Just as curriculum is not the only thing in our classroom…we need relationships…it is the same for us, here in this community. You wrote beautifully about such pain and heartache. Stitch by stitch…that is life. I am grateful that you are here…that you showed up and wrote!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning Catherine… I am so sorry for your loss. Although I read about your sweet Julia from a prior post, I couldn’t respond at the time. There are never words to comfort a parent’s loss, or a parent-in-law’s loss… only time and reflection, which you have beautifully honored. A good friend shared advice she received from her own father, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” That has always rung true for me. You will find your way back through writing, as you have already begun. Your family will continue to wrap their arms around your son, embracing him in with love and comfort. My thoughts continue to be with all of you. Thank you, as always, for being a brave writer.


  4. Thank you for trusting us with your broken heart this morning. This image of stitching a life back together without all the pieces is poignant. The space will always be empty, but you both will find your way through together.


  5. I hope your son has beautiful words from those wiser than use to comfort him too. Words written by us and others support our healing. My heart goes out to you and your family.


  6. Thank you for trusting all of us with by sharing the heartbreak of your loss right here. I know it’s more than about losing Julia… it’s about helping your son find his way again — both personally and with his business. I hope he finds peace again — faster rather than slower — so that you will too.


  7. It’s good to hear your thoughts about finding peace, Catherine. You and your family, especially your son, are ever in my thoughts as you all begin finding a new kind of life. Poetry gives a way to find some solace, doesn’t it?


  8. Oh, Catherine, I’m sorry for your loss, your son’s loss. You managed to capture grief in just a few well-chosen words. Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with us. Know that we are here when you are ready to share more.

    Thinking of you.


  9. Along with all the others, my sympathy goes out to you and especially your son. I think that this slice is the beginning of stitching your lives back together and I pray that God will be with you as you heal. Thanks for trusting each of us in this community and for sharing. Hugs


  10. Loss is never easy. Being with family eases the pain somewhat. As one who came to this blog after retiring, you are correct, this is more than just writing about teaching. I am proud to be part of this wonderful caring and compassionate family. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your son at this time.


  11. I cannot imagine your family’s sorrow, but I can imagine the loving way in which you will help your son grieve and heal. I’ve been thinking about your family, Catherine, and sending wishes of love and peace your way.


  12. this is a brave post and very important…my heart hurts for all of you..stitching hurts…but it is necessary…thank goodness you have each other, maybe next week I will be able to write about our hurt intermingled with joy…xo nanc


  13. What a touching post – full of love. So sorry about the loss of Julia and for your son’s sorrow. We can only hold our children close and be there to share their grief. May you all heal and be surrounded by love of family and friends.


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