Back in the late 70s I was going through a tough emotional time. I was the mother of three children, ages 10, 3 and 1, and dealing with marital issues that ultimately led to a divorce in 1985. I was deeply depressed, sometimes unable to get out of bed. It was during that time that someone gave me the poem, “Comes the Dawn” by Veronica Shoffstall. That poem became my mantra, helped lift me from my depression, and gave me the insight that I needed to “plant my own garden and decorate my own soul.” It also helped shift my consciousness enabling me to actually believe that I was strong and had worth. It helped me “accept my defeats… with the grace of a woman” as I said goodbye to my 20 year marriage. It instilled me with the courage to move from Wisconsin to California to “build my own roads” and a new life for myself and my children. I am deeply grateful to Veronica Shoffstall for writing this poem and to the friend who shared it with me when I needed it most.
Comes the Dawn
by Veronica Shorffstall, 1971
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
You learn to build your roads
On today because tomorrow’s ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in midflight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you can really endure,
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn … and you learn
With every goodbye you learn.