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.
She is free of the struggle now.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.