The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.
beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world
Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.
lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot
Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.
on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming
Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.
He walks past her,
driven by alcoholic
motivation instead of her smile.
Their home is a soundless cave,
cracking in every corner.
She carries on,
her fingers tire of their daily
actions in the kitchen, in the bedroom.
The only thing keeping
her there is the new lease
on life she thought she’d have
The damage is in her eyes
but he cannot see it.
She struggles to make a life
work for them, she hasn’t given up.
It’s hard when you look
at someone you’ve loved for
decades and they turn into
someone you do not know.
She puts the kettle on the
stove for tea,
the hissing sound that follows
two minutes later wakes her
from a daydream.
You have had an awful day at work. Your car wouldn’t start when you left. You finally get it going only to have the old lady on the highway merge as soon as you try to take your exit and cause you to miss it. You burn dinner. The dog’s belly rejects the food you have been feeding it for three straight years and vomit soaks your carpet. You are out of carpet and upholstery cleaner.
You forget to pay your cell phone bill.
The dishes need washing. The laundry is still waiting for you to remember it is there. Your youngest brother lost his job and you lent him your last $40.00 knowing he won’t ever be able to pay you back. Your crush knows they are your crush and is now avoiding you.
You stub your toe, break a nail, and lose your favorite earrings. There is an increase in your rent, effective immediately. You are shorted a day of pay — by mistake. The payroll department tells you, you will be “compensated on your next check.”
Your mother needs a ride to a city three hours away, however, has no gas money to give you. You do it anyway. While there, she gets hungry . . . She wants lunch . . . You buy it. You have $10.00 left to your name when you get back home.
Payday is eight days away.
There is a power outage in your area. No power for four hours, then six, then eight, then twelve. You spent $80.00 on groceries, most of the items are refrigerated or perishable. Payday is still eight days away.
Your co-worker quits, walks out the same day. That project he babysat is now yours. You take it on plus your work too. No pay increase, no new co-worker for five months. There is overtime, but there is NO overtime pay. You are asked to remember your role in the company and how influential you are.
You spruce up your résumé.
Your car battery dies. You replace it. The brakes go. You replace them too. The spark plugs no longer spark and you throw your hands up in the air — exhausted from this month from hell.
You kick off your shoes, sprawl yourself across the living room floor, and you cry. Your chest heaves. Your eyes are bloodshot red. You lose your voice. You cry until the pain seeps out of your heart, slithers down your hands, and floods your home. You cry until the tears are afraid to leave your eyes. You cry until the next-door neighbor knocks on yours and says, “Everything all right in there?”
You cry while responding. You tell her behind your stable walls, “I’m just having a bad go of it, is all.” She tells you she made lasagna and steamed broccoli. She is making you a plate. You cannot refuse. You cry because she is heaven-sent. You cry because she cares. You cry because there are still beautiful souls on this earth.
You have yourself a good cry for everything there is and everything there is not and you remember . . .
“Trouble don’t last always.”
You have yourself a good cry and get ready to endure life all over again.
Originally posted via Medium as a metered paywall piece. Shared is the “friend link” so that you’ll be able to read for free.
There are some gritty parts of me that I find, of late, bring me no pleasure to share. Isn’t that what this is all about, though? Releasing, removing everything from the system that clings to the depths of my bowels and makes it hard for me to handle life accordingly? I can vocalize this now without actually sly-giggling while I state it, but I have a problem with relinquishing control, especially if I feel a situation at hand will crumble if I do not have my hands somewhere in the mix. Ego knows when the right time is upon it. I take on quite a bit of responsibility, but I always have. I am the eldest child, the first great-grandchild and grandchild on both sides, so naturally, I was given the green light to make a few decisions before I truly knew what decision-making was. The problem is, that stuck . . . And it did so a little too well.
Ego knows when the right time is upon it.
While speaking to my therapist during our last session, I informed her that I can feel a lot of tension fall away from me because I am letting things go — things of which I have no control. There have been so many events that have happened recently that would have seriously made me break or lose my cool, but for some odd reason, I am regaining balance. I want to say that I can pinpoint when it took place, but really, I cannot. I just know that it feels good. At work, I am one of the “go-to people” and when I am not there, things do not typically flow the way they should. But, I feel the brunt of it too whenever anyone is out or away from work. We are all a part of a great team and each of us brings something incredible to our facility. We play our roles and we play them well.
What has been hardest for me, recently, is separating work-life from home-life because I have begun to get rather close to my teammates. So when the workday ends, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am no longer in touch with the members of my team. When one works closely with others for over a year, bonds take place — feelings mature. You become sad if something happens to one of them, if they’re ill, have been in a car accident, or if the stressors of life begin to wear them down. I am learning to feel what I need to feel for them but to not feel like I have to solve their problems or find a solution.
Some things do not require our input.
And in learning this, I can continue to move forward with self-care and self-love. It is not my duty to hold the hands of my adult loved ones. It is not expected of me to center around them and jump onto every little case that causes a bit of friction in their lives. I have to learn to step out of the way and only be available when asked — if asked. Some things do not require our input. They simply require us to be present in that moment when we need to know what is going on and nothing more. Making room to pull this piece of me away from my skin is opening up new doors for me to be able to focus on self-care and self-love more. But, it will take time — years, I am certain.
My therapist notices that I would rather handle someone else’s problems and ease their pain than willingly acknowledge mine and work on regaining my own balance. I admitted to her that it is easier to help someone else than to help myself. That I have been in the nurturer/caretaker role for a very long time and this — this taking care of myself, is all relatively new to me. Taking time away from work to go on adventures, mini-vacations to places on my bucket list, and to spend time away from the electronic devices that can cripple me have been the best methods in ushering me to a place of centeredness and understanding.
I want to understand how to better care for myself but not to completely shut out or cut off the problems of others. The hard thing is finding a happy medium. When is it okay to step in? Is it ever okay to step in to ease someone else’s burden or pain? Should I wait until asked or use my heart to continue to guide me to know when the time is best? I like to say, that “I am a flawed piece of life still learning how to live,” and there is much truth in that statement. The quiet space of my therapist’s office is the circle of openness that I need. I am shedding and although it is scary, this is necessary. We are not meant to remain the same throughout our lives. Age ages. It keeps going and I am making it a point to go along with it — to grow along with it.
“I am a flawed piece of life still learning how to live.”
None of it is easy. I have turned the mirror on me and who I see when I stare into it is a beautiful being who needs tender love and care. I also see someone who can be so much more if she pushes fear to the side. The main thing is the fear of noticing how much of me needs changing — how much pruning I require in order to stand up straight and sway passionately in the sunlight. I take at least an hour or two out of my day and I read. I unplug. No television. No cell phone usage. No laptop or desktop usage. I simply sit in silence or I read. Is it helping to shape me into a better person? I think so. I feel as though the opportunity to embrace peace and quiet daily when my world is so full of noise is going to further help me on my journey.
“You have to know when to let go, Tre. The sooner you do this, the easier it will be.”
Her final words to me during our last session — the light that needed to be shined on my face still stings . . . “You have to know when to let go, Tre. The sooner you do this, the easier it will be.” I am fully aware of my path and I know it will be hard to stay on it, but I want to move forward. I just hope that what I see of me as months pass will pull me closer into loving me instead of shifting me even further away.