Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Poem (of Sorts) in My Pocket

Today is "Poem in Your Pocket Day," which is part of National Poetry Month. On Poem in Your Pocket Day, people are supposed to select a poem, carry it with them, and share it with others throughout the day.

Here's a little known fact: I carry a poem in my pocket--actually in my wallet--EVERY day. It's a poem my son wrote and posted online on April 3, 2007. It's entitled "A Poem of Sorts." I don't even think he knows I saw it, let alone printed it out and stuck it in my wallet.

The poem is biographical, deeply personal, dark, and self-deprecating (but not at all in a humorous way). I remember crying when I read the poem for the first time; it broke my heart and made me so sad to read how my depressed and addicted son felt about himself.

I decided to print the poem out and carry it with me to remind myself that my son had strong feelings about himself. They were torturously negative feelings, but they were his feelings. I think the poem, as upsetting as it was to me, validated my son's actions in a way. It made me realize that there was a firestorm of activity going on inside his brain and made me understand--at least a little bit--why he was doing some of the things he was doing. It might sound crazy, but having that poem in my wallet brought me a little closer to my son and his condition.

More than seven years later, I still carry the poem in my wallet. As my son approaches 22 months of sobriety, "A Poem of Sorts" now serves a different purpose: it's become a reminder of how bleak things were for my son and how far he has come on his journey. It also reminds me to appreciate every single day of my son's sobriety and happiness, and to live in the moment. Because today is really all we have.

Yes, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. And you're supposed to share the poem you have in your pocket with others. But I'm keeping mine to myself.

"If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." --Emily Dickinson

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