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Friday, March 4, 2011

Where the Sidewalk Ends

I haven’t blogged in a while, mostly from lack of time. I’ve been taking each day as it comes, remembering to breathe in and out slowly and be content for just today.

That being said, I ran across something today that made me pause.

I’ve always been an avid reader of anything I could get my hands on. When I was young, one of the first things I remember owning was a book by Shel Silverstein. For those of you unfamiliar with his works, he wrote several excellent books of childrens poetry. I loved reading those books, and thought the other day how great it would be to travel down memory lane and read some fun verses to my 10-year-old son.

The book Where the Sidewalk Ends was the one I remember reading the most. I remember how worn the spine was and how careful I had to be with it towards the end…the pages were quite worn. To this day, I can still recite quite a few limericks and poems from that very book.

The actual poem Where the Sidewalk Ends (hence the title of the book) stopped me short when I read it again for the first time today. I don’t know if this is a difference in my perception. I don’t know if it was meant to speak to me now, as it did today, in the way that it did. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that it’s been almost 18 months since we’ve lost Brayden, and in the last year and a half I’ve read some very moving stories and poems that have helped me through my journey of grief. Most I could connect with, some I just thought were beautiful. I saved all of my favorites, and I’m happy to say my favorite childhood book will now contribute to my collection.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

When reading this, I was struck by how much these words hit home. It’s about unhappy circumstances. It’s about getting through horrible things. It’s about hope, and how beautiful it can be to look ahead with the knowledge that life isn’t always what it is now, that it will get better if we just keep moving forward.

And best of all, it was written with the innocence and understanding of that of a child, which makes it whimsical and precious to me.

Our walk isn’t easy; that’s why we take it “measured and slow” (one day at a time). It’s not so easy to get to the place where the sidewalk ends…and for us, there’s no real end. But that’s a literal interpretation, and there’s no place for that in poetry. No one expects our grief to end, not really. And that’s the point of the poem; not an ending to our grief, but an ending to each hard period of grief we pass. That’s where the sidewalk ends. And that’s where hope begins.

For those of us who repeatedly find ourselves searching for where the sidewalk ends…take the poet’s advice and “watch where the chalk-white arrows go”. It’s a road we’ve been through many times and will travel many times again, but we know this road. We’re the children who mark. We’re the children who know. We know it ends in hope.

And, probably most important, we know we don’t walk it alone.

1 comment:

  1. This is perfect. We got this book for Joshua when we had a shower for him and now I just want to grab him and read this to him. It definitely is a sign of our journey to bring our rainbows home. *hugs*