Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost 1923
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
A random text message from Morgan one day, about two years into her life on Cape Cod read, “ Have you ever read the Robert Frost poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening?”
“I am sure that I have”, I replied, “but I can’t say that I could recite even a line of it right now”.
“Well you should read it again. It’s my new favorite” Morgan stated, knowing that I would; and I did, though we never spoke about it again, and I never gave it much more thought until after she was taken from us on November 8, 2019.
Morgan had gotten her first tattoo the same summer that we had that text exchange. It was a small portrait of her moon sign, the Travel Moon, with the words “miles to go” above it, in her own handwriting, placed appropriately between her shoulder blades. When Renee first saw it, she was quick to point out that the “i” was not dotted, and Morgan was just as quick to point out that she never dotted her “i” when she wrote, which I guess neither Renee or had recognized before. After Morgan explained how she felt that the words summed up all of her goals in life, education, self improvement, physical travel and adventure, career, family and so on, Renee was just as proud of this artwork as Morgan. When I first saw it, I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that she had adorned herself with ink without consulting her parents first (yes, she was 21 or 22 years old, I know), but I told her that it was very tasteful and if it meant enough to her to wear for the rest of her life, then I could certainly appreciate it. I had NO idea at that time how important Morgan’s life motto would become to so many people.
In the days after Morgan’s homicide, those of us closest to her found ourselves saying and writing those three words at every opportunity. We used the phrase to describe the grieving, it was a statement of our knowledge of the events that ended her beautiful life, we even said the words to each other out loud as we boarded planes on our “miles to go” for answers trips to North Carolina. Most importantly, as more and more friends began understanding the importance of these words’ meaning to Morgan, and now to us, we understood with crystal clarity that “miles to go” is Morgan’s legacy! Through us, ALL of us, “miles to go” and every intellectual, spiritual and physical interpretation we can come up with for this simple phrase is Morgan’s contribution to future generations. Morgan’s life mattered, and immensely!
Morgan Renee Patten’s life mattered immensely and we all have miles to go.