Waiting for Death

My best friend’s husband passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. One day he decided to stop fighting, and less than a month later he was gone.

During that dying month, I spent hours with both of them and found myself transported into a lingering twilight, awaiting the inevitable darkness.

And that’s what I’m feeling now, the inevitable arrival of darkness as the drug war descends on pain patients, eclipsing the relief and hope we’ve maintained while waiting for rescue, with opioids holding off pain’s vicious attacks.

Waiting for Death

Out the window, there, not here,
everything looking just the same,
so blessedly bland and ordinary –
normality, for us, a shore receding.

A savage storm and long expected,
sweeps two lives clear off the land,
one taken by the current and
the other drifting bereft and lonely

in a parallel world, so dark and empty
of meaning, time, and distance traveled,
where death is always near, then not,
in this hell of in between.

Wishing for more time, or less,
afraid to wish anything at all,
afraid of living through this time,
afraid that it will end too soon.

An electric current bonds us tight
with grief and rage, its magnetism
clinging to impossible hope,
escape from the unbearable.

Body and spirit now dissolving,
inconceivable conversations
weighted by the permanence
and dread of non-existence.

Our reluctant view of death’s grim truth
rises up through skin now slack,
draped over such reduced remains –
the body’s final failure.

We spectators gathered in pain,
hover on the sidelines now,
mute and sad, lost in this land
of cannot stay and cannot go.

(written at the end of July 2013 – Michael died on Aug 7)


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