By Marsha M. Brown
Before I write another word, I have to begin with my sincere hope that each of you are safe and healthy; that you have not been personally affected beyond inconvenience and separation from loved ones in order to protect their life and yours during this unprecedented national hardship and loss; to acknowledge all who have creatively found ways to help others in this crisis be it delivering groceries, to those sewing masks at home and to all of the caregivers everywhere – in our doctor’s offices and medical facilities, hospitals and nursing homes.
I would also like to give a special thanks to each of the EMS & First Responders across the world that risk their own lives assessing a potential COVID-19 patient too ill to drive to the closest hospital or another medical facility. These incredibly brave and dedicated men and women are the first on the scene to assess the medical complaints, observe the fear a patient might have not knowing if they have the illness and witnessing first-hand the anxiety a patient must feel transporting from their home to a hospital for further assessment knowing too that depending on the outcome of their tests…they may not see family members they love for a very long time or ever again. It is unfortunate grim reality that not only our ill friends and neighbors might experience but our exceptional EMS personnel as well.
We take so much for granted…or at least I do and I’m ashamed of that. I don’t mean to. I’d like to think I’m grateful for the many wonderful things in my life…the blessings God has given me, the way He has helped me, guided me, touched me spiritually and healed me all these years…but just going out of the house for two very quick trips for essentials and driving through Manteo, my sweet home town, I was struck by the deafening sounds and numbing sights around me. The highway was empty other than very few vehicles that I could count on one hand; the stores/shops and some of the restaurants were closed or had posted limited hours; at least one business I saw had a sign placed at the entrance asking people not to come in the door if they didn’t feel well…very understandably so…I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone.
Thinking about how blessed I was to have a beautiful family, loyal friends, the security of a home, electricity, a cell phone, a TV and food in my refrigerator…I just parked the truck off to the side and sat there taking it all in and quietly conversing with the Lord. I wasn’t blaming God at all, but I wondered why and when this hardship and suffering across the globe would end? things were going so good for our nation economically and life even with its challenges was so simple – bills, work, chores, vehicle/house repairs and just everyday life in general.
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Once I arrived back home and of course turned the TV on again, I saw silence on the streets from major cities to rural areas…life frozen in time…blank stares amid expressions of anxiety on the faces of all ages, genders, nationalities, ethnic groups and careers…“What are we gonna do? How could this have happened?” It was haunting…the scenes though silent somehow reminded me of September 11th and the horror we went through then, though obviously different – much the same…a nation struggling to accept what was before us…confusion, uncertainty, shock and disbelief.
Then…my eyes shifted away from the news to my tiny dining room where one wall honors my veteran husband, whom I adored over 48 years when he passed…that I still love madly and miss every single day. This picture of him in his U. S Army uniform rests on a shelf beside the wooden box encasement of the folded U. S. Flag presented to me at his celebration of life service; his beautiful red, white and blue urn; the bust of an American Eagle (as my friend calls it, “Billy’s bird”); his V.F.W. and American Legion member hats rest there too. On adjoining shelves, are things very special to Billy – a hand carved wooden replica olive green Army tank and a hand carved Huey that our grandson had made long before he passed; a nutcracker in a camouflage military uniform; framed awards of all kinds embellish the shrine and an original painting of red Poppies hang to the side. On the pegs under the shelf are more hats that he loved, his Vietnam Veteran hat, his Dare County Veterans Advisory Council hat and several others that he cherished. And underneath it all, two special wooden plaques that were routered and painted that when given to Billy, it touched him so much, he cried. All these things are testament to the love of this country, it’s protection and its preservation that my veteran believed in…fought for…and felt an unyielding faith in.
As I stared at the personal memorabilia of Billy, the blessings of his being my husband, the father of my children and grandfather to our four grandchildren overwhelmed me and I smiled. The man whom I shared my love…happiness, worries and sorrow with gave me comfort even from Heaven. This crisis somehow faded and my concentration shifted from sadness to peace. Do I miss not having Billy put his big strong arms around me & telling me, “Everything’s gonna be alright, babe,” of course! But as they say, “It is what it is”. It’s undeniable this horrible situation will spring forth new medical science, enhanced studies on national defense and no telling what else.
I am thankful…even in all this mess…I grieve for the loss of all the family members across the world who have passed as a result of this pandemic but as my hero told me very emphatically when we learned Mama had Stage 4 lung cancer, “Get yourself together, the kids need you, I need you and we’ll get through this.” His words were golden and from that point on and through prayers all around me, God held me up, gave me strength, courage, energy and calmness for our children.
In closing, if you’re a lady, you could sit down in front of a mirror and apply makeup like you never have before…try that eyebrow pencil or an eye shadow that you’ve never worn in public…who’s going to see you anyway? Try a new hair style…experiment doing daring things while you have complete privacy…put an exercise regime with groovy music on and dance like a wild woman around the living room and throughout the house…then, sit down, thank the Lord nobody saw you and laugh…laugh hard and long. If you’re a gentleman and not single, grab up the hand of that special lady in your life and put some romantic Easy Listening tunes on and hold her tight…so tight you can feel her heart beating…if you’ve got a bad knee, back or other limitation…it’s okay, sit close on the couch or in your recliner…together!
Love is what gets us through everything. The love we have for each other, for our family and friends and especially for the Lord who has blessed us in so many ways we tend to take for granted or forget too many times. As the Lord parted the waters, separate the hardships and worries away from the blessings of all the many people who have recovered from COVID-19; for all who help return them to health and to their homes; for the most incredible exceptional country we live in.
This weekend we celebrate Easter, evidence of the most beautiful love the world has ever known…think about it…celebrate it and be thankful for a miracle that was witnessed by the masses. Consider the significance of the cross, find joy in the morning, find goodness and happiness, even if you must look hard to find it…because it’s there.
Until next time…you’re awesome! Be happy, be safe and be proud and pray for all our leaders, law makers, Pastors and teachers who can and will make a positive (or not) difference in our lives and our future. If you know a veteran or veteran’s family who need help, call our Dare County Veteran Service Officer (V.S.O.) Patty O’Sullivan (252) 475-5604 and leave her a message (and while she is not in her office every day during this crisis, Patty will call you back. You can also write to me at [email protected] or call my cell (252) 202-2058 if you’d like to share your thoughts. Again…be safe, adhere to the protective guidelines our Coronavirus Task Force and local officials have recommended…its critical! Doing so could save many lives…even your own. I love you all and I wish you all a beautiful Easter Sunday. Stay tuned!