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Tag: death and dying

New Widow

Wind scatters leaves as I approach the house.
The geranium he hung lies on the floor.
The same porch board’s loose. The coir mat sheds.
I fumble for the key and push at the door
that opens to guitar amps, music books
and cardboard boxes left by the man
who asked me not to touch his clothes
or toss the newspapers till he came home
from the

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The Secret

Gabriel Foster

“If my father dies, you’re going down with him.”

The words pierced the air, and suddenly there was silence.

I hadn’t noticed Frank’s son at first. He’d been pacing in the back of the family group gathered in our ICU waiting room. Now, up close, I could appreciate how large and intimidating he was. And I’d just had the thankless job of telling him, along with the rest of his

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One Was Answered

All through November he prayed, “Please God, help this pain, and please help me find out what is wrong so I can heal.”

Through December: “Please God, when I see the doctor, don’t let it be cancer. And I beg you to please help this pain.”

In January and February his prayer changed to, “Please God, let the chemotherapy and radiation work.”

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A Wish Fulfilled

 
Once age and declining health prevented my mother from continuing to work as a salesperson in a local children’s furniture store, something she had done for 41 years, she began to pray that she would die.
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Someone Loved Her Too

Sophia Görgens

The first mistake I made
was leaving my ID card home
in the pocket of my fleece–
the one with a zipper that broke
in Namibia and a hole stabbed
by a pencil during finals, worn
deep with worry and time.
Later, I asked someone else
to let me into the lab.
We made small talk in the hall.

Second, it was

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Meditating with My Stepdaughter

It was a Friday afternoon in May, a week before my stepdaughter died. I was holding a solo vigil on the couch next to her bed, while she slept peacefully.

Her hair had started growing back, soft and thick and gray. I loved to rub my hand across her head.

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Lipstick

 
My mother’s scent, Replique, always entered my bedroom an instant before she did. The message my nose carried to my brain, then on to my heart, was “She’s going out tonight.” 
 
She would first sit on the edge of my mattress. The comfort of her nearness would always be overshadowed by the sadness that I knew would overtake me once she left me alone. But we both pretended it didn’t matter.

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Butterfly Wings

 
Like the wings of a butterfly, Ma’s hands were always in motion. Making beds with perfect hospital corners. Gliding the iron across Dad’s shirts. Breading veal chops and turning dough into chocolate chip cookies. Washing dishes and clothes. Vacuuming and dusting. Ringing up sales at the children’s store where she worked.
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Lost in the Hospital

Christine Henneberg

It’s easy to get lost in the hospital. I’m only an intern, and already I know it like the hallways of my old high school, every doorway and doorknob. But overnight, as I float between the floors and the units, answering pages, I quickly lose track of where I am, what time it is, what day it is.

I am vaguely aware that I’m on the fifth floor, the top floor

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Ritual Healing

Joseph Fennelly

In recent years the medical profession has witnessed a surge in burnout and depression among physicians and other health professionals. Efforts have been made to address this–for example, by offering Schwartz Center Rounds, in which caregivers openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues they face. Health professionals can also reduce stress through counseling, meditation or massage, or through practical steps such as cutting back on their working hours.

In

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Going Solo

Amanda Anderson

I softly scrub blood from the teeth of a man who died moments ago. From the chair where I sat quietly writing nursing notes while he quietly ended, my patient’s sallow skin and sunken cheeks looked so peaceful. But the weeks of stagnant residue on his teeth bothered me.

To brush the teeth of someone who was in the process of dying would have contradicted my orders to provide comfort care,

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If it isn’t written in the chart, it didn’t happen

Christine Higgins

The doctor covers my mother’s hand

with his own hand. Her hand is

a speckled egg he is keeping warm.

The nursing assistant reaches out

to touch the yellow roses,

and murmurs, “Bonito.”

Several people come in and speak

cheerily to the bedcovers and the curtains,

but not to my mother,

who no longer makes eye contact.

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