Child Loss · Grief · poetry

“Lift the Flesh Door”

Today I shared this quote on Instagram, thinking it was for “you”, and discovered it was for me.


“If you’ve got enough nerve,” that phrase settled in and I let it simmer.

Then asked myself, what would I do, what possibilities would I explore if I had enough nerve.

I feel like in many, many ways, I have proven to myself that I do have nerve. Lots of nerve.

I mean it takes nerve to decide to adopt a newborn baby at age 40, when all my other children were becoming independent.

It take a lot of nerve to fly half way across the world and bring home two children with special needs.

And then what kind of crazy nerve does it take to say yes again to a newborn with Down syndrome, who could have any number of health issues? And he did.

It took nerve to decide at 45 that life needed to look and feel differently. It took nerve to transform the way I looked at nutrition and fitness and make a complete turn.

It takes a whole heap of nerve to to stay married for 25 years- mind blowing, honestly.

It takes immeasurable nerve to keep moving when life has been shaken under my feet.

Emily Dickenson writes,

“If your Nerve, deny you—
Go above your Nerve—
He can lean against the Grave,
If he fear to swerve—

That’s a steady posture—
Never any bend
Held of those Brass arms—
Best Giant made—

If your Soul seesaw—
Lift the Flesh door—
The Poltroon wants Oxygen—
Nothing more—”

“If your Nerve, deny you- Go above your Nerve-“
And my nerve does try to deny me, some days, I cave and other days I rise above.
Yet I “lean against the Grave”
Pressing my will into my own grief. Feeling all the feelings and letting them shape me.
Terrified still of what will come.
Who I will become as I lean in.
“That’s a steady posture- Never any bend.”
That place of leaning against the grave, pressing into grief and feeling all the feelings, over and over, steady wave after steady wave- unbending.
“Held of those Brass arms- Best Giant made.”
The brass arms of grief perhaps, the memorial of bronze that stands firm, never shifting.
Making Giants of us all, causing the weak to become inhumanly strong.
For to survive such loss, requires more strength that humanity should know.
“If your Soul seesaw, Lift the Flesh door-“
Oh how my soul does “seesaw”, oh how it vacillates up and down. Oh how is slides along the slippery slope of grief and pain and grasps for root and rock to hold on tight. Oh the “flesh door”, oh for courage to fling it wide open.
“The Poltroon wants Oxygen, Nothing more.”
The coward inside just needs to breathe.
Don’t Forget to Breathe, Tracie.
Breathe in that inhuman strength that grief drops in the human soul.
So fling it wide open.
Breathe it all in.
And again I say to myself, “What would you do, Tracie, If you had enough nerve? Because you do. You do have it. You have a hell of a lot of nerve.” 
So maybe just maybe, I have enough nerve to keep putting pen to paper, to keep letting my thoughts escape my soul, to keep loving those who need the very nature of love poured onto their hurting hearts, to take grand adventures, to stand on earth that is not my own and firmly plant a stake of love, to dig a well of hope and suck the life from its waters, to dream for things that my heart has yet to see.
Maybe I will Lift the Flesh Door.

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