I was having a bad day. I was down, discouraged, afraid. That evening I was to visit the local Veterans Administration Domiciliary, a place where once homeless veterans can live while they get counseling, get clean, find a job, and a place to live. These men all come from the street and the depths of addiction and despair.
I didn’t feel like going, but my group would be waiting and duty wouldn’t let me cancel. So with absolutely no motivation I went to sing, speak and teach my program, The Ladder UPP.
I did my best, but for most of the night while I spoke words of motivation, I was scared and panicking on the inside. Of course, my problems were nothing compared to these men who had lost everything. By the time we were finished, I was ready to go hide some place and drown in misery, but before I could leave one of the men approached me with a piece of paper. He said my talk the week before had meant a lot to him, had given him hope, and had awakened a desire to write a poem.
He gave me the paper, but I was in a hurry and told him I’d look at it later. Alone in my car, I opened up the paper and began to read. The poem was about me. Not all the details were correct, but it was about me. I want to thank the author of this poem, Mark Skaggs, for not giving up on himself and showing others that no matter how dark life might seem, you can survive. I also want to thank Mark for giving me permission to publish this poem and his name. I found out later his poetry won an award and was published.
Last Flight by Mark Skaggs
Canopy closed, instruments on
been waiting for this since the break of dawn.
This is his dream, this is his time,
two Marines ready to fly.
Catapult shoots, lights turn red,
all he feels is a sense of dread.
Gotta punch out, gotta eject
no time to think, no time to reflect.
Canopy pops, rockets roar
absolute fright, absolute horror.
Wake up in pain, sore and confused,
One life will live, one life to lose.
I’ll never forget that time,
I won’t forget that night,
When two young Marines
had their last flight.
But out of the ashes, like Lazarus he rose,
fighting through the pain, worry and woes.
He found a new life, he thought of new goals.
Reaching higher and higher with his feet on the ground.
He’s set himself free from everything that was down.
He now tells his story of his struggle and strife,
and soars with the Eagles,
Thanks to the last flight.
When I finished reading the poem I placed it on the seat next to me and started to cry. But I was happy, and thanked God for giving me a touch of grace.
Real love, real grace is all around us. Open your heart, help your fellow man, and when you least expect it something truly wonderful and magical will happen.