Untitled Poem | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

July 15, 2011

Untitled Poem

In the past year, my husband and I have lost a combined 4 grandparents:

My grandfather.

My Nana.

Hubby's Grandma.

And most recently, 
Hubby's Grandpa.

Hubby and I have been blessed to have known amazing grandparents.  Grandpa's funeral is tomorrow, and we are preparing ourselves for the service.  A few months ago, I wrote a poem about Grandpa.  He had just broken his hip, and was in the hospital.  We weren't sure if he would make it through surgery.  While he was at the hospital, his wife of over 60 years, Grandma, was back living at their condo with their 24-hour aide. She had terminal cancer, and had been on hospice for quite some time.  Her health was rapidly declining, as was his.  I was struck by their relationship, their current situation.  They'd lived most of their lives together, and now as time was winding down, there was the chance that they would potentially be apart for the rest of their days.

I'm not a poet by any means, but sometimes when I feel a strong emotion, the only way I can process it is through writing.  Grandpa was confused and alone at the hospital, away from his wife. He was still coming to terms with her finality and her cancer, let alone his lot.  I could not keep myself from trying to see the present world through Grandpa's eyes: why he acted the way he did, how he felt.  How does an 89 year old man feel when he is looking at the last days, weeks, months of his life?  Of his wife's life?  Of their life together?  

Writing this poem gave me insight and understanding.

I'd like to share this poem with you, in honor of Grandpa's funeral tomorrow.  The family decided they would like it read during the service, which humbled me.  I haven't shared much of my non-bloggy writing here.  And it's uncomfortable, like the dream where you are in class and realize you are naked: it makes you feel exposed. Writing is such a personal thing, particularly poetry. It gives a glimpse into one's heart, mind and soul.  

So, this is uncomfortable.  But I want to do it

Writers note: As I wrote this poem, I was listening to "Winter Song," sung by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. It gives you a feel for the tenor of the poem.  I love this song - a beautiful mixture of sadness and hope.


Untitled Poem

Unfamiliar surroundings 
white walls, white sheets 
beep beep blip beep beep blip
but not her.
My life my light my joy
years, so many years
so many birthdays christmases anniversaries
by my side
we had all the time in the world 
pot roasts on the table, flowers in the garden
children, grandchildren
our life.
we vowed to grow old together
and together we grew old
so many birthdays christmases anniversaries
warm memories, vibrant photographs of
our life together.
minutes became days became years
the aches became more frequent, the ailments more common
our hair grew white, our skin grew thin
but she never grew any less
until one day all the time in the world became finite
her cancer
and the world suddenly seemed cold.
i became angry at everyone and everything
for both of us
because her heart was too pure to hate.
her body betraying her
how impotent i felt
unable to take away her pain
and i became angry at God and at life
that after so many birthdays christmases anniversaries
this is how our story would end
but she never grew any less 
falls, breaks, confusion, sleepless nights
medicine. so much medicine.

and she never complained
not once
because she was lovely, always lovely

until one day my own body betrayed me
and they took me away
to heal, they said. to make me better.
did they not know?
better could never be without 

but here I am.
without her.
and i cannot remember...
had i breathed in her scent?
looked into her eyes?
stroked her paper skin?
told her i loved her?

one last time?

i cannot remember.

i look at my failing limbs
twigs on a rotting tree
and i am angry
at the injustice of it all.
out of a habit i have come to love,
i reach out my hand
searching, seeking.
but where i would find hers
there is nothing but empty bed space
and never have i felt more alone.
the tears are warm upon my face,
i find comfort in their presence.
I close my eyes and escape into my mind
and i keep her picture in my heart
until i can see her again

because i know 
that she will never grow any less 


In case you are wondering, Grandpa miraculously made it through hip surgery, and he got to spend Grandma's last few weeks with her in a nursing home, where they shared a room. 


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