Peace and Love My Little Bird


Dinner guests gone, my out-of-town  relatives tucked in for the night, I went outside last night to blow out the candles on the patio. I sat. The weather has been blessedly mild in St. Louis the past  few days. Unheard of for it not to be hotter than a fire cracker on the 4th of July. The evening air was lovely, scent of gun powder notwithstanding.

We’d had a good night. People I love, dotted my well worn deck, with the warped plank that’s curled up on one end. I cover it with the dogs’ water bowl, lest somebody land face first in the flower bed. We’re vertically challenged as it is. My friend Mark showed up with a guitar, must have known we’d love some Neil Young to end the night.

That’s what this is about then, right? Love? Oversimplification, I understand, but sometimes it bears repeating. That’s what we’re put here for, you know, love.

Fireworks subsiding, evening summer soundtrack gaining, melancholy ebbing, my thoughts turned to Sean. Seannie, my youngest child, who’d called me from Minnesota earlier in the day, alone for the first time on a holiday. He’s up in Rochester for a summer journalism gig.  He was hanging in , had gone to a bar to get a beer and a burger and said he was doing okay,  but for the first time ever, on a holiday,  a holiday for which our little burb of Webster Groves is known far and wide, Seannie was all by his lonesome.

There’s a truth just under the surface of that phrase, “all by his lonesome,” even, “all by myself.” Because when we are present to the gift of our own heart beating and the comfort of our own company, how can we be alone? I am by myself. I am with me. As I sat there alone last night, I was gratefully reminded of many a solitary summer night on the road, two years ago when I came to fully appreciate the peace which comes from solitude. It reminds me of the song we used to sing in Sunday school:

I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart.

I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay. 

Two years ago today, Libby and I backed out the driveway and waved goodbye to Sean and Lou. I didn’t let Sean see me cry. I was scared.  I didn’t know what I was doing. Hells bells, I wasn’t even sure of where I was going. Honestly, I felt a little bit like an imposter. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t know until I drove away if I’d really go through with leaving my life behind for a couple of months to chase down something I thought it was missing.

Turned out to be me.

Sean and Louie the Dog

Sean and Louie, saying goodbye, July 5, 2011

Now, two years down the road, my bird has flown. Peace and love to you, Sean. I know you’ll find it.

Two Years After

Two Years After




About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Jean–I know some people who are not content with themselves. They must fill almost every moment with another person. The thought of a weekend alone, a month without a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, a year or two (or more) of being single…it scares the pee out of them.

    I guess for you, July 5th is a bigger deal than the 4th. Happy Independence Day (one day late), Jean.

  2. How rare to feel the peace that descends at the end of a “glorious” celebration of “Independance” Day. And even rarer, the ability to capture it and send it into the world. Alone is frequently good. Beyond good. Healthy, instructive. All you need is a lake or ocean to go strolling along. No, the Muddy Mississippi doesn’t count. You have written a beautiful rumination on the events that touch us all, but just a few are aware of it or even know why they feel as they do. You continue to verbally dazzle us.

    • Gerry,
      I added italics to your “dance” on the end of Indepen…,(to protect your reputation) and because not everybody who reads my blog got the email I sent out with the photo of the misspelled “Independance” which was at a nearby bus stop in Glendale, just a mile or so from my house. I sent the photo with a link to this post. I was criticizing the misspelling, and I’ve noticed a lot of them lately. As it turned out, I was hoisted by my own petard, as my father-in-law oft cited, or as I would say, ensnarled by own snarkiness. As it turned out, unbeknownst to me, the person who made that poster is a young woman with Down Syndrome who regularly decorates that bus stop on Adams near Berry Road. I had no idea. And in the full circle-ness of things. it was my kid in Rochester, Minnesota who was stranded on the 4th of July, with no way to get anywhere to BE with anybody on his first holiday away from home, because, guess what? The busses were not running on the 4th! Hence his solo holiday.

      Thank you for your kind words on my treatise. You’re a dazzler in your own right.