a focused presence
If I had been able to tell you then that you were beautiful,
that you were strong,
that you could manage all the suffering that was coming
and do it all with grace,
…but i wasn’t your mother, or lover or friend.
As your doctor I could only give you a carefully chosen collection of words,
enough honesty to lead you slowly to awareness,
enough tact to allow you to choose denial or hope and keep going..
I didnt cry when my first patient died,
I didn’t cry when I had to turn off the BIPAP machine because the family couldn’t
the nurses couldn’t
i didn’t cry watching her suffocate.
I didnt cry when at 23 she wouldn’t let us turn the light on,
in the darkness of her bedroom I could only see a small rise in the bedcovers –
she couldn’t eat or drink with mouth cancer
only a hoarse whisper that sounded of pain and exhaustion,
she died before the monday.
I cried many times for myself,
when I felt inadequte, or overwhelmed.
Selfish tired unappreciated.
I want to say freely to you now… I love you deeply
as a soul only knows
in the depths of truth found at the end
in the suffering
in the light laughter humour
the ridiculousness of it all
I want to say thank you and goodbye
I can cry now… with gratitude
i know how to live… you showed me in your last hours…
that a focused presence is all we ever need and all we can ever give