A letter to Clear Lake firehouse 71.
By A Grieving Mother
How do you measure your success? If you pulled a child from a wreck, treated him promptly and professionally, saving his life. This is a good day. Parents thank you for saving their child. And for that moment you are the hero. You are reminded why you chose such a lifestyle and you know this is what you live for. Your life is filled with many stories. Perhaps you treated the wounded on the scene of a terrible fire, or sung a song to calm a scared little girl who doesn’t understand why her mommy won’t wake up. In your down time, you may be an ordinary person, winding down with your friends enjoying a cold beer. Talking about the crazy situations and people you encountered that day.
Then there are the truly hard days, of things you could barely speak. Sights that can never be unseen. Perhaps screams that still linger in your ears, or tear filled faces that haunt you in your sleep. When you have done everything in your power, expended every ounce of your energy to save that life, refusing to stop trying, yet to powerlessly watch this one slip away beyond your reach. Yes, there are some battles even the strongest and bravest cannot win.
You don’t feel like a hero then. There is no thanks. No smiles. Just faces of anguish and pain. You are taught not to let your emotions get involved, told to steel your heart. But deep inside you are still human, and that is what makes you care. When you tuck your kids in bed to sleep, do you hold them extra tight? Do you think about that family who will never have that chance again?
I’ve had experience to see a peek at both sides of EMT life, as one of my own daughters would ride out each day under lights and sirens. She was focused and ready, to do whatever needed to be done. Some days she came home a hero, some days she came home weighted with pain and holding back tears.
But I have also been on the other side, the weeping mother yelling at you not to give up. I have been there with my child under those flashing lights, I have watched you fight long and hard for her life. In that one moment, you were right there in the very center of my world. Life and death hanging in the balances. I was in shock and disbelief, yet refusing to give up hope. You didn’t give up either. In a sense, you were fighting for my own life too. Although CPR is tiring and strenuous, you never slowed or stopped your pace, till arriving at the emergency room and others took over the fight.
Then when all that could be done had been done… my child was gone. I was consumed by my own grief. I remember seeing you again in the ER halls. Yet in my shock I could not to take notice of anything else. Those are the days when you get no thanks, the days when the battle is lost. You go home late and exhausted. The hero that has lost his cape. Of course, “It is just a job. Don’t take it personally.” But under that strong exterior, does it hurt when you lose a fight?
It has taken me two years since that day to be ready to write this, and it may be something you’d never expect to hear from a grieving mother. But for all the battles you have lost, all the days you did all that you could do, for all the screaming voices and faces of despair you have had to face, all the days you went home worn and defeated, the days no one appreciates or calls you a hero, I want to say, Thank you. Thank you for trying your best under some of the worst of circumstances and not giving up. Thank you for being there for us in our time of need. Thank you for getting back up again, through all the wins and the losses. And thank you for giving of the best of your strength, even for the one you couldn’t save.
By Marie Morrow
A Grieving Mother's Easter
It was so dark that Easter Friday,
When they laid His body down.
As though the hope of all creation,
Went with Him into the ground.
And she wept a bitter weeping,
Only a mother’s grief can know.
For this savior was her baby.
She had loved and watched him grow.
It was so dark that Easter Friday,
When we laid her body down.
As though the sunshine of a lifetime,
Went with her into the ground.
And I wept a bitter weeping
Only mother’s loss can know.
For she had been my little girl,
I’d loved and watched her grow.
Now when Easter comes it pains me,
To see brightly colored eggs.
For the coming of this season,
Softly fills my heart with dread.
For when everyone is celebrating,
The resurrection found,
This season marks the painful day,
I laid my daughter down.
But how bright that Easter Sunday,
When He rose up from the earth.
All creation felt the glory,
Of new hope and life re-birthed.
But none as deep emotion,
As the joy in Mary’s face.
To see her child back again,
For one more sweet embrace.
Oh how bright will be the sunrise,
When we rise up from this earth.
All the world will know His glory,
As creation is re-birthed.
But the deepest of emotion,
Is seen on a mother’s face.
To have my child back again,
Once more in my embrace.
For the joy of this reunion,
I believe and I will wait,
I’ll trust He doeth all things well,
Though He give or though He take.
Cause one day I’ll see my girl again,
With sparkle in her eyes,
Then I will hold her in my arms,
To never say, Good Bye.
For what we celebrate at Easter,
Is not left within the grave.
It is joy that’s daily given,
And more joy that still awaits.
Yet, all this is only possible,
Because of Easter’s pain.
When He was buried with our loss,
And resurrected with our gain.
By Marie Morrow
How different the scene would have been on that street corner, if we could have seen through heavenly eyes. Perhaps we would have seen a joyous company of angels come to welcome our precious child into a beautiful heavenly realm. Perhaps they would have assured her as she saw us overwhelmed with shock and grief that we would be well cared for. She may have seen each of us attended to closely by loving beings sent to comfort and guide us through our loss. Perhaps we would have seen her wave goodbye as she excitedly boarded a heavenly chariot sent to carry her to her glorious new home.
Perhaps there was great joy that day, when all we could feel was our own deep pain. We knew she had gone to a better life. We knew of the joy that awaited her, but that joy seemed so far from us then. How can Heaven be so close, as to have your loved one passing through its door, yet to feel as though it were a million miles away? How can we, who know of its treasure and gain, still be so overcome by our own loss?
Our eyes see such a different view from this side of the veil. We see a child snatched from our arms. We see a young life cut short too soon. We see the one whom we have loved and cared for with such tender devotion, suddenly taken from our lives. We see a daughter whom we have groomed and raised with such pride and promise, now vanish from our grasp. All the hope and expectancy of coming years now gone in an instant. We feel the gaping hole in our own hearts, as an integral part of our family is ripped away.
We feel the horror of such a violent tragedy that crushed a frail, beautiful body. We see our precious girl, only moments before full of life and vitality, now lying lifeless and still. We feel her warm hands and stroke her soft hair, knowing that this is the only goodbye we will ever get. We feel the pain of wasted moments and regrets with no second chances. We feel so deeply the pain of our own loss, the longing to see her smile, to hear her laugh, to hold her again in our arms, to tell her once more that she is loved.
For her it can be said, “Oh grave, where is thy victory. Oh death, where is thy sting.” She is free from this mortal body to feel no sorrow or pain, in a place where all tears are wiped away. Our mind and hearts know of the blessings and joys that lie before her. But for us, bound to this earthly realm, death takes on a different form. As believers it is true that, “We do not grieve as those who have no hope”, but that does not mean that we do not grieve.
When the pain of loss so overwhelms our senses and the heart aches so deeply, what room is there left in this frail, feeble mind to feel the great joys of her gain. We know it in our understanding, but we see through a glass so darkly, subject to the weakness of our humanity. Grief, in some way or form, is given to all men to know, a common path which all must cross on the course of their life’s journey. Even Christ was not exempt from this fundamentally human experience, as he wept at Lazarus’ tomb.
Why is it given to us in this life to know such heavy loss? What part of our earthly journey necessitates such an experience? What lessons and broken riches can only be found in these darkest places? Would our lives on earth be incomplete or our spiritual growth stunted if we never came so near to Heaven’s portal? Must it be that we come to know both sides of the veil? Is the pain of death part of the plan, that we may know truly the glories of the eternal?
This much I do know. I am not the same person now as I was before. Grief has cut me open to the deepest places where my core being has been exposed, where God’s hands can reach around my heart and transform it like no other. I know that when all the outer layers are stripped away, then I come to know my true self, both my weakness and my strengths. I know that when the soul is so sorely pressed, that the glitter of this world loses its luster and the material loosens its hold. Ambitions and pursuits, once so important, fade into the background. We find ourselves grasping for a new sense of reality.
It is from this place of loss that we can come to know Heaven’s gain. It is a slow and painful growth that matures and ripens the soul. It is only in the lonely quietness where the deepest utterings can be heard. Oh, to step back for a moment from my own hurting heart and see from the Heavenly view. God, grant me your blessed gift, to see beyond the present pain, to the joys of a bright tomorrow. Give me grace to live out my days in patient and humble service, till my child and I can be together again. Give me a portion of Heaven’s joy to carry with me here on earth today.
By Marie Morrow
Be at rest, oh my soul. The Lord hath dealt kindly with you. The pain of this world has made you afraid, but come now, take refuge in my Lord. You have been brought low, but you will rise again. The storm is past, the waters abated. Do not fear to come out now and bask in the light once again. Do not hide in the dark any longer. Let the sun shine on your face. Let the freshness blow in your hair.
See now, even the birds give once again their song and squirrels rebuild their nests. The devastation is past. That which was broken will be rebuilt. New shoots come forth where the broken branches fell. The flood water recedes, washing away the debris. Once again the elements come into order and balance is restored.
Be at rest, oh my soul. Do not fear to build again, for you will have many good years left, years to bless and to be blessed. Rise from the mud now. Lift your heart from the tears. Whisper softly to your heart to yield to life and beat again.
Dear heart, so crushed and torn. So tenderly you have loved, and so terribly and fully broken. Beat again, my heart. Pick up again your steady pace. You will flow with life once more. You will once again be full and generous, with much love yet to give.
Whisper these words, soft lips of mine. Speak these words to my soul. The voices of cruelty are many. Dark and hideous their voices whisper of doubt and fear, of death and defeat. Speak out sweet lips and silence your advisories. Speak a word of hope and strength to lift this weary soul. Be strong and remember the songs of your youth. Please sing them once more to me. Tell of the glories and joys of my God, that my heart would not faint.
Dear eyes that have been so long in the dark, with no color or light. Emerge from the shadows, uncover your face, and let your sight adjust to the sunshine. Do not fear to lift your gaze, to see beauty in the world all around you. There is much beauty yet to be seen, new sights yet to be discovered. Look up, my eyes, and look to the horizon, to the wonders of life that are yet to come.
By Marie Morrow
The Hopeful Answer
By Marie Morrow
Hate is so loud, and so easily gets our attention. It is amplified and surrounds us, overwhelming our senses. Looking at the news, it was all I could see, and I despaired at the state of our world.
Yet for every single act of evil, there are many more good people appalled at the atrocities and wanting to make things right. For every lone bomber, there are hundreds willing to jump into action to help save their fellow man. Media creates such hype about the acts of hate. Yet with each terror attack, countless stories emerge of ordinary people being heroes, making sacrifices for complete strangers, and reaching out to offer aid and comfort. Compassion and kindness are most revealed in times of pain and trouble.
Hate may be loud, but goodness is so very bright. It is the silent sun that rises every morning and the soft colors that bathe the world at sunset. Love shines on in this world day after day, through loving mothers, doting fathers, dedicated teachers, brave firefighters, and caring nurses. It is the person who donates a kidney, adopts an orphan, digs a well, rescues the helpless and fights for justice. We can see it in a kindly grandmother or the innocence of a child’s eyes. It bursts forth in the creativity of an artist and the inspiration of a writer.
I have come to see that a portion of love and goodness are innate in our very humanity, a faint imprint left by the one who created us in His image. Perhaps just laying dormant, waiting to be fully realized.
Love is not loud. It does not seek attention or boast of its power. Goodness does not make a big splash on the evening news. For the most part, love and goodness go quietly, unseen, as they daily wrestle against the tide of evil. Yet despite great opposition, goodness fights on all around us. An addict decides to try one more time and a victim gets back up again. A couple works to restore a broken marriage and a city rallies to rebuild after a tragedy.
Pain and sorrow are very great. Yet joy remains abundant in this world, the laughter of children, the excitement of newlyweds, the family playing tag in the park, and the joyful worship of praise to God. Our differences are many, yet across the globe, countless people are crossing ethnic and societal boundaries, aligning together in common cause, to stand against prejudice, to guard our freedom, to protect our environment, and to fight for change where ever it is needed. No matter how dark the night, the dawn silently pushes back the darkness and defiantly says, we cannot be beaten.
This is the overlay of grace, the light that cannot be vanquished and the songs that cannot be silenced. Yes, Satan may make a lot of noise. But this is God’s world, and it is good.
The Painful Question
By Marie Morrow
Heavenly Father, I ask that you teach me to see the overlay of grace. I want to see good that is in this world but all I see is pain. When you finished your work of creation and said, “It is good”, did you know what would become of this world? Did you see a fallen world destroying itself by greed and withering in pain? Did you see the cruelty and hate that would trample the weak? When you rested on the seventh day, did you not lament how Satan would seek to steal and destroy everything that is good?
How can you call it good, when the seeds of such pain had already been planted? How could it not break your heart to see what they have done to your beautiful world? If this is your world, how can you have resigned lordship over the “kingdoms of this world”? Why is Satan allowed place to rule over your creation?
My heart is so broken by the pain in this world. I try to heal and see beauty again but every day I see more pain. I used to be able to handle it. I used to have strength to do some good. But my heart has been so broken and grief has shown me depths of pain I never felt before. Now empathy is so painful, for I have known the depths of great sadness. The pain I see in the world now, hurts so much more. The suffering of the weak and the cruelty of the strong, each story in the news, each person’s grief, each one’s pain, falls heavily on my already broken heart. Yes, empathy can be so painful.
I used to offer so much hope, always full of faith. I used to believe that any pain could be turned into good. I used to see the beauty and potential all around us, waiting to be discovered. Now I feel the pain of a hurting world reflected in my own broken heart. For the first time, I see the world in its full depravity and all the heartache that it causes.
Death steals the ones we love. Friends we trusted betray us. Families and churches are divided. People are criticizes and judged for their differences. Good people try hard only to be trampled down. Young and innocent are abused with no defense. Wounds inflicted leave lifelong scars, beyond our power to overcome. Violence and crime, war and hatred abound on every side.
Where is the Kingdom of Heaven to be found on earth? Where do we see Your kingdom come and Your will being done, on earth as it is in Heaven? If Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, shouldn’t we be seeing some of it here? The God I believe in is not impotent or indifferent. You would not have created this world with such care and wonder, only to leave it to crumble in its own devices. In a world where evil has such a stronghold, surly you must have a powerful resistance.
You said your kingdom was not of this world. Yet you came to tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. So if your kingdom is “in the world but not of the world”, then two parallel universes must somehow overlap. “Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.” I understand that it is there but I want to be able to see it again, this overlay of grace. To see pain overlaid by joy, hate overlaid by love, and sin overlaid by grace.
God, I ask you to open my eyes, to see your grace in the overlay.
My Christmas Morning Peace
The world was still as dark that night.
The Roman grip was just as tight.
Not much had changed for poor and week.
Their lot in life was just as bleak.
They sought a savior strong and wise,
To heal their hurts and hear their cries.
Instead they heard a tiny peep,
From little infant fast asleep.
How could the hope of all the land,
Be held within such tiny hands.
For thirty years would come and go,
Still waiting for that gift to grow.
Yet, changes great have come on earth,
Because of that small infant birth.
Today we want what’s fast and strong.
To ease our pain and right our wrongs.
Yet answers to our prayers are born,
Just as they were on Christmas morn.
A seed of hope so frail and small,
That does not seem like much at all.
Yet such a tiny seed of hope,
Will someday be a mighty oak.
So do not cry and do not moan,
When miracles are not yet grown.
For God has given us His grace,
As smiling from an infant face.
And if we wait, then time will tell,
Of God with us, Emanuel.
By Marie Morrow
Christmas Day, 2015
Just a Little Christmas Cheer
My Christmas Eve Plea
There’s just one thing I’m praying for,
One gift I need this year.
I wish, God, you could spare for me,
Just a little Christmas cheer.
The lights are brightly shining,
The gifts wrapped under the tree.
I’ve given joy to everyone,
But there is none left for me.
I’ve done the Christmas baking,
And I’ve played the Christmas songs,
Hoping to have Christmas,
As it should be all along.
But my heart is feeling empty,
And it’s hard to make it through,
‘Cause my child’s gone to Heaven,
To have Christmas there with you.
She is singing with the angels now,
Where the stars are all aglow.
And it’s left a sad and empty space
In our family down below.
So as Heaven’s choir sings tonight,
To celebrate your birth,
Could you spare a little Christmas cheer,
To share with us on earth?
I am praying for a Christmas star,
To shine a ray of light.
To beam through all this darkness,
As it did that holy night.
Oh, I wish to hear the angels sing,
Of God’s good will to men.
And I wish today some peace and joy,
Would come to us again.
By Marie Morrow
Christmas Eve, 2015
You probably think you are very clever, thought your latest campaign to be so successful. You thought you could finally prove yourself to be so much stronger than me and that you could gloat in your victory. Well I’m sorry to have to knock you off your high horse, but your conduct in this fight was both cowardly and sissy.
You sought to attack me when I was already at my weakest. This was a weak and shameful move. You were just trying to take credit when all the hard work had already been done for you. Grieving the death of my daughter had already ground me to dust. Only a lazy coward would launch an attack when his opponent is already knocked out.
You must have been feeling pretty smug for a while, thinking I was pretty much gone. With me knocked out and unable to fight back, you thought this was an easy one sided fight. Well, before you do your little victory dance, you might want to take another look. It is true that I’ve been too weak to fight you at all, but that doesn’t mean you win by default. You’d best reexamine the rules of the game and pay attention to what is going on. While you had your focus on little old me, you missed the strong hero who stepped into the rink to champion for me. And yes, that is legal.
Your plan has backfired. Did you really think you could just walk in here unchallenged? Did you think that my savior would leave me in my weakest hour with no means of defense? My champion has taken over my fight, so you’d better watch out because He is no picnic. I’d advise you to read Psalms 18 to get an idea of what you’re up against.
You hoped to make me lose confidence in myself and in my calling, tried to make me forget who I am. Oddly enough your attack has only served to boost my confidence. I want to thank you for having faith in me when I had lost faith in myself. I thought I was already defeated, but somehow you still viewed me as a threat and increased your assault. I’m really quite flattered that you esteemed me so highly.
You thought you could isolate me from the kind and strong voice of my savior. I will not give you credit for this. See, my savior and I, we had an understood silence. He silently held me, and I silently trusted Him. Your interference did not really interfere with anything.
Through all the smoke and mirror tricks you have tried, you have missed the important truths which negate your assumptions. Firstly, my confidence is not in myself in the first place. It is in my savior. (2Cor. 12:9) Secondly, He is the one who chose me, taught me, and cared for me all these years. He will not abandon His own project after He has invested so much time and love into it. He will protect His investments. (John 10:28-30) Thirdly, my savior is also an amazing artist. He is talented and creative. He creates with intention and purpose. He made me, therefore I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (1Thes. 5:24)
Next time, don’t be such a wimp coming after me when I am defenseless and beaten. And then again, don’t ever underestimate the defenses of a defenseless person. The rules of the game allowing for champions are set up to protect us from cheaters like you. And just to warn you, my champion is both jealously protective and undefeated, a dangerous combination to tangle with.
So until next time…
“I’m doing fine.” “We’re getting by.” “Slowly getting back on our feet.” I could not tell how many times I have said these words when well-meaning friends inquire. What could I really say? Grief has so many faces, it’s difficult to even understand it myself, much less explain it to someone else. Grief comes in waves and stages, fluctuating and contradicting over time. Emotions overwhelm the senses, some lasting for days, others for months, and multiple feelings compound together all at once. My experience has been a journey unlike anything I had imagined or encountered before. I used to think grief was only the sad feeling of loss. Now I understand that it can be so much more.
Some days grief is a wrenching pain screaming out from the depths of my soul.
Some days it is a numbing paralysis, suffocating the very life out of me.
Some days it is a tangible ache in my arms, longing to hold my child.
Some days it is exhausting fatigue that feels as though the weight of my body is too heavy to lift.
Some days it is a deep sadness imploding my world into a small dark space.
Some days it is a punch in the gut that knocks me off my feet and leaves me gasping for air.
Some days it is an uneasiness that twists my stomach and makes my nerves flair and heart race.
Some days grief is the soft sweetness of precious memories held close and kept alive.
Some days it is the close bond of family, supporting each other in a shared sorrow.
Some days it is seeing your kids walk out the front door and wondering if that will be the last goodbye.
Some days it is a state of hypervigilance, feeling as though another tragedy could strike at any moment.
Some days grief is floating through an empty space, grasping for something to hold on to.
Some days it is self-loathing and self-hatred.
Some days it is a tornado of confusion hurling around in my head.
Somedays it is a black void where neither thought nor word can come together cohesively.
Some days grief is an ordinary day, going through the motions as though nothing ever happened.
Some days grief is an ocean of tears that cannot be contained.
Some days it is Netflix bingeing for hours on end in an effort to escape my world.
Some days it is craving every good food and some days it is being unable to eat at all.
Some days it is being unable to talk to anyone, ignoring calls and texts, and leaving unopened emails.
Some days it is being unable to even go to the store, afraid I might see someone I know and have to talk.
Some days it is having family over for a BBQ and keeping it together so well that I look fine.
Some days it is being friendly and talkative, a little glimpse of the old me trying to peek out again.
Some days it is wondering aimlessly around town all day to avoid the pain of being at home.
Some days it is watching the ones you love hurting as bad as you and being powerless to help.
Some days grief is an avalanche of self-doubt, so as to make me not even know who I am.
Some days it is staring blankly out the window, seeing only a world that is cold and grey.
Some days it is seeing a glimpse of my daughter everywhere I turn, expecting her to still be there.
Some days it is feeling the memory of her face slipping away where I cannot find it.
Some days it is holding her personal belongings, as though each one held a remnant of her presence.
Some days it is wanting every reminder of her kept out of sight, blocking out any trigger of a memory.
Some days it is being angry at God and questioning all I believe.
Some days it is unshakable faith and sweet communion with my God.
Some days it is feeling like an island alone, unable to connect to anyone around me.
Some days it is deep mutual understanding, laughing and crying together as one.
Some days grief is reaching out to my child and feeling that Heaven is so close and so real.
Some days it feels like the other world is beyond reach, a million light years and a lifetime away.
Some days it is being devoid of any coherent word or creative thought.
Some days it is a focused expression, an outpouring of emotion through paintbrush or pen.
Grief is so many conflicted feelings coming and going that it can never truly be explained, but it is deeply understood by another who has walked a similar road. Each one’s journey is different, but we share a common bond, and in time, we will get through it.
By Marie Morrow