Shaped by Our Stories

"The Invitation" published in


It matters, the story we tell ourselves. Nowhere has this been more profoundly evident for me than around the death of my son. It’s poetry, but it’s practical. Step one: Hear the story. Step two: Notice what other story is possible.  Step three: Notice how this framing deeply influences how we live our lives. The poem, “The Invitation,” recently published in,  explores just how powerful this shift has been for me.

The Invitation

Two nights after he died,
all night I heard the same
one-line story on repeat:
I am the woman whose son
took his life.
 The words
felt full of self-pity,
filled me with hopelessness, doom.
And then a voice came,
a woman’s voice, just before dawn,
and it gave me a new shade of truth:
I am the woman who learns
how to love him now that he’s gone.

It did not change the facts,
but it changed everything
about how I met the facts.
Over a hundred days later,
I am still learning what it means
to love him—how love is
an ocean, a wildfire, a crumb;
how commitment to love changes me,
changes everyone,
invites us to bring our best.
Love is wine, is trampoline,
is an infinite song with a chorus
in which I am sung.
I am the woman who learns
how to love him now that he’s gone.

May I always be learning how to love—
like a cave. Like a rough-legged hawk.
Like a sun.

–Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer