Author/poet Ann Campanella shares her journey through heartache and loss with such beautiful, insightful prose, I often had to pause to let the significance of her observations linger. It is easy to see why she was drawn to poetry: she has the gift of being able to see what is right before us but is often overlooked, summing up almost any experience with graceful perception.
The author tells the story of a two-headed dragon that threatens to rob her of her beloved mother and the chance of someday being a mother to her own children. Being so attuned to the world around her in ways most of us aren’t, she recognizes at the onset of her mother’s dementia and her body’s inability to sustain a pregnancy that the things she prizes most are in jeopardy. Throughout her mother’s mental and physical deterioration and her own miscarriages stemming from a variety of causes, she consciously evaluates her future without those two important factors in her life.
While spreading herself as thin as she can—between her parents and siblings, her horse facility, her students, and her beloved horse, Crimson—she must deal with the absence of her husband, whose job keeps him away from home most of the time. These are lonely, trying years, peppered with failed attempts at bringing a new life into the world.
The unexpected upside to this very personal story is the solidarity the author feels with her parents, two brothers and a sister, and her tribal, extended family. Though her father’s decline leaves her with more responsibilities—finances, driving and being the rock for her mother—being part of a much larger whole brings many healing rewards. She demonstrates quite brilliantly all the pros and cons of having kin close by, people who will love and support you through anything and everything, even when they as individuals may complicate your own life.
This is a beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming story. So many of the author’s experiences and observations brought me to tears. But her story, like life itself, is full and I silently cheered as she took all her disappointments and agonies in stride, even when it seemed that her life was never going to get better.