At 6:02am on Thursday morning, I clicked onto the Hinds Hospice employee intranet to access the payroll information. After selecting the correct menu choices, I was officially on-call for Thanksgiving 2019.
A few months back, I had agreed to the turkey-day shift for our LOSS team program. My wife and I don’t have kids. Our parents have died. Our siblings live in various places across the country. I have colleagues with children and nearby family. It just seemed right and fair to be the on-call for one of the major holidays.
LOSS is the acronym for Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors. This program officially began last July (2019), mostly funded by Fresno County and under the “umbrella” of Hinds Hospice’s Center for Grief and Healing. At its simplest, LOSS will respond to any suicide as quickly as possible after being contacted by the police or coroner’s office. Two people—a clinician and a volunteer—will go to the scene to provide support and information to the family and friends impacted by a loved one’s suicide.
Arguably the most crucial action the LOSS team does is get contact information for the “survivors.” In the moments, hours, and days after a family member or friend has died by suicide, an entire universe has been shattered. Emotions are on a runaway roller coaster. Doing routine tasks become like climbing El Capitan without ropes. Tender memories clash with the new grim reality of non-stop, unanswerable questions.
I don’t think I have placed my hand over my heart to “honor” the flag of the United States since high school. (Which means during the Vietnam War. More on that later.) When the national anthem is played and those present turn to face the flag, I will stand, angled toward the flag. I will remove my hat if I’m wearing one. I will remain quiet and attentive.
But my hand doesn’t cover my heart.
I am not anti-American.
I am not un-American.
I view myself as a respectful, responsible citizen.
When visiting Philadelphia and Independence Hall many years ago, I paused to gaze at the chair used by George Washington during the Constitutional Convention. Benjamin Franklin noted the distinctive carved sun on chair and declared his belief, with this new nation, that the sun was rising and not setting. I wept. How powerful our history!
After the 26th Amendment was ratified, I knew it would soon be my turn . . . to vote! In 1972, during college in my twentieth year of life, I arrived at the polling place in the early morning for the first election where I could cast a ballot. Since then, I have always voted in local, state, and national elections.
+ Larry’s List of Dark Corners, Holy Nudges, and Faithful Nonsense +
This ends it.
This is my last weekly “And Yet” posting of my faithful and foolish reflections. Launched in 2007, I published my debut “blog” during the first week of June.
An excerpt from that attempt:
How foolish of me to think that I will be heard in the immense pond of the Internet. With famous writers blogging away, snazzy faith-based websites galore, the 800-pound (and buck naked) gorilla of pornography, keeping up with Paris Hilton, spamming, and the fact that all of us don’t have much time for anything new, who will care about my miniscule contributions? It won’t matter how many brilliantly crafted words-as-pebbles I toss into the web’s pond, the tsunami of everyone else’s actions will hide any ripple I try to make . . .
. . . Jesus, according to the Gospels, wrote only once. In John’s account of Jesus’ ministry, the Nazarene (read Chapter 8) “bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” He did this as others prepared to hurl rocks at a woman “caught in adultery.” What did he write? What were his scratches in the dirt about? John didn’t say, but whatever it was, people got the message. Even a few words scrawled in mud have the power of transformation.
I suspect no one read the initial post. But writing has fascinated me for a long time.