New Year and Still Walking

2016 went out with clinking glasses, a lot of hugging, and me, suddenly weeping into my dear dad’s neck as he gently patted my back.

I didn’t expect this sudden rush of emotions, anger–and then sorrow. We were playing Rummikub, laughing our butts off as my sister threw words at me between our turns, one at a time, demanding I come up with a song for each. I nailed pebble.

I’ll put a pebble in my shoe, and watch me walk, I can walk and walk… from By My Side, the lament at the end of Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell.  Which she remembered, because as kids, we loved this show and harmonized, all three of us girls, on the tunes.

If Mary could walk with a pebble, I can climb mountains, run marathons, scale walls with the box of rocks (as my friend Leslie likes to intone)  nesting in my hoofers of this past year.

2016 went out with sudden dark intensity and death. Many deaths. Of many kinds. Some big, some small, some personal–right next door. Someone started a Gofundme to ensure Betty White keep breathing until 2017. [I whispered this under my breath thinking of my dad, nearing 86, and slowing down these recent months.]

There is no Gofundme for living a life. For staying alive. For turning your head to the sun and away from darkness no matter what’s blocking the view. Actually, there’s no insurance. Of anything. There’s just walking. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. [Oh, man, have to give a shout out to Herbie the Dentist singing to Rudolph.]

Here’s the good news, the amazing news: whatever I have carried this year has not weighed me down. It has buoyed me, lifted me, supported the flight. And by flying, I don’t mean away. I mean to. My work. Jan. The center of my whole self. Art.

I choose to keep moving. To walk. On whichever path comes and says, here. Right here. I wish you the same. Happy Trails.


Great Grandpa Denham and baby Harper Anne, Christmas 2016.






About dhaines54

Dawn Denham (formerly Haines) lives in the hill country of North Central Mississippi where she's writing a book about her mentor at the Eastman School of Music mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani and teaching writing at Oxford High School. Her work has been published in Poets and Writers magazine, Brevity, Zone 3, Literary Mama, and WILLA. Her book with authors Jacqueline Raphael and Susan Newcomer Writing Together: Transforming Your Writing in a Writing Group was the first book of its kind published in the US. Her essay Aleatorik about her mother’s death won the 2012 Solstice magazine Creative Nonfiction prize chosen by Jerald Walker and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received an MFA in Nonfiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Arizona, and a BM in Voice from Eastman School of Music.
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1 Response to New Year and Still Walking

  1. Pingback: Friday Jan 6, 2017 | The Stream and the Broken Pottery: a blog by Dawn Haines

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