Letter from an EMT


Death is one of the main things in life that connects us all. It is a major part of life—we know that but we don’t like to expect or accept it in our culture. It’s inevitable—we all have that in common. Sometimes I imagine we are all in a long metaphysical queue (like at the grocery store, just waiting our turn…which will come eventually, but not no time soon. Suddenly a new clerk opens the next register and someone in the middle or even back of the line, suddenly is called to be first. And off they go when you least expected it. Its especially distressing to everyone in the waiting queue when we watch someone young get called up ahead of us. Or if it’s someone we love a lot.


There a small painting on my living room wall. I did it sometime after Vernon and I returned from our Venice honeymoon in 2016. I have been looking at it lately, wondering if its time to take it down, whether I should reorganize the artwork. At any rate, I think it matches the poem I am about to share (from a book someone gave me at Vernon’s memorial service—thanks Yuki!)   I hope others who have lost their loved ones can gather comfort and hope from the words.

On The Death Of The Beloved

— John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

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Letter from an EMT