The Chorus: Frailty

this is a project that has been burning a hole in my heart. we all sing our pure and shaky and earnest songs, to ourselves, our kids, our pasts. we sing because we need to hear our voices out loud, because it gets lonely sometimes, because it hurts, because the joy cannot fit in our bodies. mothers and fathers are always and never alone. i want to focus on the never part. i want to hear the voices together. i want to start a chorus.

– Amy Grace

it is the slow spread of chills that tells you how close your toes are to the line marking happy, after so many years of snags and starving and survival. the line where both your scared and hungry heart stand face to face. the one drawn in sand. and how foreign and like home it is at once. how much like diving to have the inside and outside joy line up. and knowing that joy shares the same air as the sound of infinite shoes dropping. breathing in every molecule and losing each one, together in a twisted spiral of smoke. love and terror are married to the ghosts of each other. we have to show up to watch them do it. to have a hope of anything else.

here, tangled like vines to the sun, with this girl. this beginning girl, on the verge of everything. listening to songs on a precious, tenuous, yearning loop, both of us in our separate corners, my door open, hers cracked. practicing harmonies she brings to school with her cup, her rhythms, the lunch i still pack. with tears for her, always for her. we are bookends, on opposite ledges, drawn like magnets to this middle place of wondering and aching and swell of the chest. i know the shape of what’s coming, but not what will fill it. that it would be magic right now, with all of my green mistakes made and paid for, but not magic to do over, blind. all of the grown up things are there. the ones about which i dream and stress and scratch at my skin. the ones that grip me from inside and leave me dry and hungry and wanting to open up wider than i ever could. and here we stand together at this the crack of the window, the fresh air pouring in. the realization of how close it was before. how safe. how gone now. tucked away like christmas lights in spring.

i’ve made a life of slipping into hearts and bones and burning skin. a curse of love, that can’t be traded. i remember being with my brother, when we were small, as we grew big and complicated and turned every shade of grey and black. i remember how everything could be exactly right and wrong in one picture. the soft spot where everything hit and hurt. and i would feel it both ways, as we fell apart and searched for the pieces in the almost dark. i would be with him when he couldn’t see me. and that’s the clearest truth i know. that it isn’t clear at all, but cloudy with shifting, slanted light; the way we pictured heaven. the long way, the winding way, the middle way for which we’re looking, the only one. no right entrance or exit, only right now. balanced on your heels at the edge of the world, everyone you love next to you. ready to hurt, to love, to jump.

– Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

Life is busy. We’ve all got a lot going on.

We see and hear highlights. Glimpses.

Life is busy. We’ve all got a lot going on.

Most of our daily interactions with people barely scratch the surface of what may be happening in their lives…the hardships they’re facing…the weight of what they’re carrying.

Life is busy. We’ve all got a lot going on.

Sometimes just being there….being you….being a shoulder to cry on or an ear for venting is enough. Your time. Your attention. Your concern. You. matter.

Note to self….life may be busy and you may have a lot going on. Find a way…make the time…be there…

– John Waire

“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed. ” ~ Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)

i really feel this quote. so many folks seem perfectly content to live their lives without “rummaging” in their souls. i can’t keep from digging, but sometimes…it’s so damn painful to unearth what i discover.

the light on my bed this morning was so beautiful. i was in a hurry to rush out the door to class and almost didn’t allow myself the moment to stop and feel it. almost is the key word here… so glad i thought to stop and rest in it’s softness. the light waits for no one.

i startled a deer on my walk through the forest yesterday, it let out a sound like an elephant blowing air through it’s trunk. so, i growled at it. and it ran. i felt my power and my smallness all at once…

i just finished writing another paper. i wish i could describe what my mind feels like after…like it’s able to breathe again and join my heart once more in the dance that’s so familiar that it never grows old.

i found a dead hummingbird today and carried it wrapped in a faded fallen leaf back to my house with the intention of collecting it’s vibrant green feathers to add to my growing collection. coco and i looked at it, so beautiful and broken, for quite a while before leaving it to rest on the porch. i wonder what coco will remember about this day when she is older and something sparks her memory…

– Angela Hendrix Petry

you came into this world, and all of the sudden i recognized the fine balance of everything: the way life hinges on moments, the way existence can shift and change in an instant, the fragility and wonder of it all. i held you close and felt your skin and knew that you were mostly made up of light and stars. everyday, you grow taller and your view of the world opens and you become the person that you were always meant to be. and everyday, when i look at you, i am reminded that all we have are these moments: these beautiful, miraculous, heart-breaking, amazing and fragile little moments.

– Shelby Brakken

I feel that frailty suggests emotion. More meaningful than simple weakness and garnering less criticism than a flaw. Just hearing the word makes me imagine treasured things like porcelain teacups, threadbare baby blankets and tiny blue eggshells. Delicate objects in need of protection. I wonder though, if it isn’t just anything that we love too much? Cherished to the point of wearing thin. The act of loving something introduces vulnerability. That vulnerability is the emotionally charged weakness, the dignified flaw which makes frailty a tradeoff for love. To some a dropped teacup is simply broken while to others it is a tragedy.

This afternoon I will mend the torn fabric of Clover’s Nunny once again. At this point there are more scars than not, but I will keep sewing tender stitches for love is worth the work to protect it.

– Rachel Devine

I took this photo of you thirteen years ago when I thought I wanted to be a photographer. You didn’t care what I wanted to be. You supported me regardless of my teenage daydreams. Gave me my first bank account, taught me how to make my bed the moment I got out of it in the morning and always told me that my troubled times were temporary. You were dying, but I was the frail one. You told me you weren’t afraid, yet I still am.

This was your last trip home. You rode on the back of a Harley through the mountains that summer. Baked your pies, and yelled at me to turn down the Sonic Youth that I was blaring down the halls of your quite mountain home.

I showed my two-year-old son this photo tonight, he asked who it was. I said “this is my grandmother.” He turned around and looked at the front door and said “Where is grandma?” I told him, “she is all around you.”

Fuck cancer.

– Amanda O’Donohue

Lately, I have been feeling the strand that holds us together stretch…I know that he must go out on his own and at the same time, I fear for what he will find out there. For what he will experience. I am about to find out the strength of the job that I have done to this point, as well as, the strength of the bond between us. It is a curious mix of sadness and excitement…I am so excited for him to experience life in his own unique way, but I find trusting in the work we have done thus far to be much harder than I imagined. This strand…exactly how far will it stretch when we are both pulling it in opposite directions? I don’t fear the frailty of it though…I am just curious to see how it will proceed.

– Dana Pugh

I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria,

who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person.

But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.

– Tennessee Williams

September. The month where I fall apart in giant shards that slip and nick those around me just trying to embrace the broken pieces of me. It happens every year. Every end of summer when I must let go of golden days where I ran with my children in fields, swam in a crystal clear lake, prepared and ate meals with my family around a table of conversation filled with “I learned to swim underwater today.”, or “Mom, I’m afraid of bees this year…” happen. I leave behind the certainty of stars in the sky, thunder on the plains, cabin windows where the wind blows cool against the dew on my skin from the warmth of a summer day well spent. It’s during the summer when I’m most aware of my children’s innocence and childhood. The days when they turn over a new age, for all I ever wanted were “summer babies”. There is an undefinable magic in summertime that leaves me wilted in my goodbyes. September is the inbetween. Mourning days of memory filled waters and sparrow dreaming skies, I feel parched and drained. I pull the seasonless covers of September sorrow over my head, fracturing what little bit of shell I have as the days drone on. October approaches, and as I continue to splinter and crack with each faded day, I rebuild slowly with love of new teachers, dusty books that beckon, inches that were grown, and a new kind of cool that slips in through my morning window, bringing a veil of fog that soothes and heals my raw September wounds. And as it does every year with the turn of the calendar page, my soul pushes forward, leaving the inbetween behind, reminding myself that the now is a vital part of what makes the memory of summertime so indelible, and it is what binds together the seams of my fragile soul.

– Martha Schuster

“Life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice” -Maya Angelou

I was brought to my knees in despair, completely helpless. Never before had I wanted so bad to give up. Never before had I truly met my limits. Eyes all on me, growing increasingly weary. I gave everything I had that day and as I clinched my eyes shut and listened to those red blaring sirens, I knew that what I gave would not be enough.

The next time I opened my eyes, I met only the eyes of strangers. The lights were bright and several people were moving swiftly around me.

It’s been one year since your birthday and when I look at you, any residual feelings of weakness disappear. You are my constant reminder that I did do enough, by surrendering.

And on that hot summer day, the warmth came not from the sun but from the humblings of motherhood.

– Ashley Jennet, The Stork and the Beanstalk

may 11, 2013

tomorrow not promised. me, shaken, deep within my core.
this, my future, lies not in my hands
but in the hands of him who speaks daily to my soul.
it was not my time, i am imperfect and you have much work to do in this life he says….
you have a purpose, i have a plan…
go, find peace, in the warmth of your children’s
sweet embrace
the love of your husband’s unfaltering faith
this earthly life simple
not mine
for a time

– Celeste Pav

There is such a fragility to childhood, and yet, maybe even more so such a resilience.

– Meaghan Curry

This is the first summer she jumps in before me. I watch her run down the dock as it shakes. It’s old, fragile, and shudders like lungs come February. In and out. The water moves at a slow pace, rushing rapidly, ebbing as it hits the sand. This too, I think is symbolic. I wonder in metaphors lately, see in rituals. Traditions intertwine with who we are and as we stretch our bones and pass them down, I watch the younger ones make them their own. She is a shoot, growing tall and lean and wild. Her hair is long and her face lengthening. The little girl is not quite so little anymore. I shake the thoughts, cobwebs. Before me, she stretches and laughs and the platform rocks. The sound carries like spiderwebs in the wind. This is the presage, the delicate dance between girl and woman, and I watch her sway. Lake beneath her, back and forth. Jump, I cry. Not yet, she calls back. And so it goes. For one instant, she leaps and her breath is more yell than air. She collides with the surface, dives in deep. There is a frailty, fragility to becoming. She leaps and where there was once timidity, tentativeness, I now see surety, strength. What is delicate grows deep roots. This she is showing me, each new morning, each tender blossom.

– Hannah Nicole

don’t be fooled.  I don’t care what sort of front they put on.  or how self sufficient they seem. they aren’t inside.
they need love and support and attention.  not everybody shows their weakness on the outside. sometimes its buried deep.  my “strongest” child
had a serious emotional breakdown last year.  now i know to look deeper. to watch for signs. to listen to the unsaid.

– Wendy Laurel


  • laura - beautiful entries as always. chills as always. shivers as always. tears as always.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Sweda - Perhaps my favorite chorus to date. Consuming and thought provoking. And beautiful. Bravo, my friend. And you all who contributed!ReplyCancel

  • Kasandra - just found this beautiful site. what an amazing way to find inspiration in women … i want them all to be my new best friends 🙂
    thanks for sharing all of thisReplyCancel

  • suzanne - I have been waiting for this installment. I love, love reading these. Such beautiful words and people. xoReplyCancel

  • celeste pavlik - wow, this series is absolutely beautiful. so much to take in with the imagery and words. i’m touched and filled with so much gratitude to be among all of you amazing and gifted women. thank you amy. xoReplyCancel

  • Amanda O'Donoughue - Thank you Amy Grace.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany Meng - I can’t not express to you how excited I was to see this new post. It feels me with so much joy and inspires me to no end. Amy you are so wonderful and I admire you and this blog. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Candy - Always a beautiful read. Warms my heart and tears at it as well.ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *