Lasha Morningstar

May 6, 2013

The fragility of life broke through the turmoil of our everyday lives when Boston Marathon bombs unleashed their cowardly indiscriminate destruction.

But it was such an innocent thing for the injured and slain to do. Stand on the sidelines and cheer runners as they reach the finishing line. Yet the madness of others meant three lives were lost and scores of others are physically scarred for the rest of their lives.

Those scars hit the rest of us too, especially when two Ontario and Quebec residents, with the RCMP's suggesting they were only part of a network, were arrested in an alleged terrorist plot.

So easy to let fear take over. So easy to blame the sabotage of our society on immigrants and/or those of the Islamic faith. Take a look though and one discovers most of the mass murderers in North America are homegrown, white and called themselves Christians save, of course, for 9/11.

Then what do we do with this heightened awareness? Scroll back to the Boston bombing and focus on the immediate response. Most hurtled away seeking safety. But there were others who ran towards the injured, the dying.

Flowers lie on the sidewalk at the site of the first Boston Marathon explosion as people walk along Boylston Street April 24.


Flowers lie on the sidewalk at the site of the first Boston Marathon explosion as people walk along Boylston Street April 24.

Waiters from nearby restaurants grabbed napkins to staunch the bleeding from severed legs. Others rendered what aid they could, never stirring from the sides of the fallen until emergency medical help came and took over.

How can we respond now? St. John Ambulance offers a rainbow of first aid courses ranging from basic first aid to those targeting specific situations such as farm and wilderness injuries. Armed with this knowledge we can help respond – not run.


Remember those blood-soaked scenes? People stateside pay you for blood. Here in Canada we have Canadian Blood Services. They depend on our donations of blood. I have given 30 plus donations and never thought I would ever need to make a withdrawal.

Ah, the fragility of life! So when I found myself in emergency recently, I said prayers of gratitude to the two unknown donors who gave me those life-sustaining transfusions.

So many benefit from the generosity of strangers who give of their time to save a life. The reasons for blood transfusions run the gamut. Massive car crashes where life and death hang in the balance. Industrial injuries. Weekend warrior catastrophes. Replacing blood for those with chronic diseases.

We are heading for holiday season, a dangerous time when donors are away, crashes are many and blood supplies can run perilously low. Give the Canadian Blood Services a call.

Like me, you never know when you will need blood yourself. Like too many, I took my health for granted. Life is hectic and usually my diet suffered. Every summer break I would make the resolve to sit down and organize my meals. Did I do it? No.

Yes, I had little warnings that all was not well. But I tossed them aside, once again thinking I would tackle it "later."

"Enough already," said my guardian angel.


So one Friday morning, I was suddenly racked with pain even my stubborn self could not handle. Off to University of Alberta emergency and a patient intake clerk who was asking me questions I could barely answer. When she asked who they should call should it become urgent, I replied, "My dog."

A long silence and then she said, "Do you really want me to put that down?"

Pain strips life down to the unpolitical truth.

Onto the emergency bed, answering questions, up for a whole body scan (Blessings to the scan technician who gave me a warmed heavy blanket) and back for the diagnosis. It was a painful situation but one, with the help of intravenous pain killer medication, would pass. (Blessings too to the intuitive Dr. Thomas.)


That is the way the angels got me in for medical help. The crunch came when a skilled physician looking at my blood count discovered what several years of severe dietary neglect will do to a body.

It scared me. And I felt shame for abusing the health I had been given.

Yes, I have changed my ways. I learned my lesson. The event also let me experience the competence of several doctors, a nurse and technician who practise both the art and science of medicine. It also let me know the kindness of colleagues who drove me and stayed with me when they did not have to.

Life. It is a gift. Treasure it. Protect it.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)