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A Poetic Pilgrimage through Grief



Pastor Larry Morris lost his wife of 38 years, Suzanne, in July 2019 after a five year struggle with Ovarian Cancer. His son, Gabe, died unexpectedly in November 2019. He writes about his journey through poetry in hopes of bringing others comfort in their times of grief.

Free Now

She is free of the struggle now.

the exhaustion

the pain

the weakness

and the difficulty breathing.

She is free from

the fluid in her belly

and in the sacks around her lungs

and the burning neuropathy in her feet

and the nausea

and the throwing up.

She is free from the drugs

and the supplements

and the chemotherapy

and the immunotherapy

and the infusions

and the injections

and the blood draws

and the tests.

She is free from the roller coaster of emotions

the frustration

the anger

and the struggle to hope.

She is free from all of that

and I am glad for her


And I am free too.

I am free from the intensity of care giving.

Free from the demands of the cancer,

from the steady work of keeping her comfortable

and alive;

from the hyper alertness, at home and at work and in all the places in between;

I am free from the frustration and the fear and the helplessness

and the roller coaster of joy and the anger and the passion of it all.

Free from juggling three things at a time and then ten things

and then losing count.

Free from the fear of the unknown.

Free from the restless sleep

wondering how she is now,

or now, or now:

and wondering if she would be alive

when I woke up.

Free from being careful to not wake her

or from wondering ‘is she was sleeping too long?’, “Should I wake her?”

Free from trying to decide with her the right treatment

that might keep her alive

or to help her decide if she should end it all.

I am free from all of that.

Yes, I am grateful for her freedom

but I have mixed feelings about mine.

The price was so high.

I'm Tired

Grieving is hard. It’s more work than you might think. It means change and newness and beginnings when you are ready to fight for sameness and routines and do battle for the way it was

Grief is living with and admitting to pain and sorrow forgetfulness and indecision fear and doubt and quiet love that never leaves Grief is living with emptiness and distance hopes and disappointments thankfulness and regrets and profound intimate holiness

Grief is living with deep breaths and longing sobs incapacitating time outs and new exciting plans dear friends and deep losses

Grief is living with all of that on its own schedule on its own time line on its own Grief is hard work hard hard hard and I am tired tired tired tired


Back

I want him back to the other side of a conversation the other side of a table the other side of a hug the other side of love. I want him back. I want to hear his dreams and his plans and watch him work out his life and struggle and grow and see him become. I want his life back.

I want to hear how he is caring for his friends and hear his thoughts about politics and hear how he will change the world. I want his voice back. I don’t want to deal with this death or work to understand it or accept it or live with it. What I want … is him.

I want him back to the other side of a conversation the other side of a table the other side of a hug the other side of love. I want him, I want him back.

Deeper Still

Come with me deeper still into conversations that are simple and accepting and honest and holy deeper still

Come with me into feelings of joy deeper still over simple gifts and loving words and kind gestures deeper still Come with me into grief and pain deeper still where tears are common and pain is real and we sit in the midst, together deeper still Come with me into a simple life deeper still where others are really seen and you are really seen and words are soft deeper still Come with me where our souls are touched our fears are quieted and our breathing is calm deep still Come with me deeper still

This Far

If you've come this far, my friend you're on the journey. I don't know how far you have left or your destination but I know you're on the way. You may have fallen back or questioned your will but let me remind you, you've come this far. You can rest if you need to. You can take time to reflect and breathe slowly for awhile. The time will come to take another step and then another and then one more. You can do it. After all, you've come this far already

Who Am I?

How can I consider my soul's deep question "Who am I, now?" when my inner voice so clearly and so often reminds me of who I am not, now. Perhaps it is grief's journey to first make a home with and a peace with who we are not, now, before we can deal with who we are now, or who we are becoming, now. At least that seems to be my journey. Walk on, pilgrim.


Pastor Larry Morris serves part-time at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland Washington. He is know there as the Poet Pastor.  He reads his poetry and stories in sermons, to grief and care giving groups, to a group that walks in the woods with him, and he posts on his facebook author nearly weekly. He has published three books, "Among Us: Stores of Worship and Faith". "Flirting with The Mystery: Stories of Faith Life and Cancer" and "Creative Souls: Color, Words and Spirit" (a collaboration with artist Vonda Drees). His next book will be on the Care Giving. 

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