the stranger

‘why?’, the stranger inquires

interrupting my quiet reverie of memories

so much of my life is lived in the past now, and i catch myself speaking of lingering son as if he lives there, though he is perfectly present

‘why didn’t you pull the plug?’, the stranger presses

as if my son’s presence merits an explaination, a justification

as if there is some giant cosmic plug somewhere, a switch we can flip at our own choosing, when we think it’s best

(this stranger thinks she knows what is best, yet she did not conceive you, carry you, she did not birth you with joy and raise you into young adulthood

she doesn’t know you…or me

she wasn’t there, all those months

she has no idea about your life or mine now)

and yet this stranger fancies herself superior somehow, ‘i would have pulled the plug’ she says 

there is no plug, i tell her

it’s not that easy 

nothing is simple

i turn back to lingering son…we close our eyes, feeling the warm spring sun on our faces, lost in our inexpressible thoughts

 
©2018

the appointment

i hear his footsteps approach the exam room, my breath catches as thoughts race. my pulse quickens, i feel slightly sick…

memories flood past…playing with my children, grandchildren, babies chortling, making music with friends, farming…further back..giving birth, weddings, falling in love, childhood..

all accomplished with some level of pain, the last twenty years with proper treatment. happy and still productive, at sixty now i am in school, volunteering, advocating, caregiving, loving…or was. the change in my life has been head spinning these past few months.

he interrupts my thoughts as he enters. without making eye contact, he announces my medication will again be cut in half. i protest. i can’t spend more time in bed. i like to walk with my cane. to move. moving is important to be healthy.

i remind him i am a caregiver. my son cannot speak or move. who will care for him? for me? what have i done wrong? 

he won’t risk his license for a patients function, he says. nothing personal. he shows me a printout. says i’m over a limit that never existed before. that someone, somewhere, says now they know the risk of addiction. after over twenty years of none. liars.

he never took his hand off the door handle. bastard. he grins. buffoon. it will be a transition, he says. fool. death is a transition, i reply, that doesn’t make it a desirable outcome. he quickly disappears, leaving a nurse to pick up the pieces, and hand me my sentence. coward.

as i leave, a protesting patient is escorted out by security. an old man asks what ‘non-opioid treatment’ means for his cancer pain. my chest feels tight.

outside, the addicted continue to die in record numbers. their pain is not physical. the escape they seek is not with any medication i am prescribed, yet this is somehow laid at my feet. the world has lost its collective mind.

©2018

voice

i remember your voice

your cry, your laughter, your indignant toddler howl

your questions, your songs, your whispered prayers

shouts of joy, yelps of triumph…the sobs of defeat

all have crossed these lips

no more

i smile when i hear you now, a comfortable, pleased moan

or an irritable low growl as you clear your throat for attention

your sighs are magical in their meanings

irritated, annoyed… relieved

or pleased, the edge of laughter… I wait for that day, craving your tumbling laugh

the occasional ‘mom’… my heart knows means distress, i know what it takes to muster that. single. word.

it’s mine

ours

yours…

i remember your voice

© 2017

flotsam

there are millions of us

the injured and those who love them, cast afloat on this ever changing tide

some whole, seeming untouched, floating high and strong…others less so, yet still much of their former self-ness in evidence

then, there are those who are but fragments…recognizable only to familiar eyes, and mothers’ hearts

we float…some seek comfort in familiar groups, rising and falling with the phases of the moon

others float on in solitude…silently desperate, utterly alone…slowly disappearing over the horizon

missed by no one

salvation is finding one another on the tide, reaching out, holding fast

©2017

night sounds

the house is still

not silent

rhythmic breaths, dreaming sounds of chasing rabbits never to be caught…

rustling quilts and bodies rearranging in the night

lingering son coughs, calls out..a quiet moan. i leave the warm cocoon of blankets and silently cross the hall

i am tired. years of tired. yet i love this son, who needs me more now than he did even as a newborn. people love babies, full of hope and promise. people pity the brain injured. invisible, voiceless, they linger unwanted, and valueless to some. unfathomable. he needs me more than ever before, and i am sinking under the weight of that truth

i make him comfortable, whispering words familiar, singing songs he loves. loved. tenses are useless most days. almost mechanically my hands follow the routine…feeding tube, breathing treatment, drain the bedside urine bag, check his breathing and oxygen levels..more whispers, comforting, a song…kisses

i make sure the camera is ok, adjust pillows and covers…and silently slip across the hall and into my cocoon

rhythmic breaths, dreaming sounds of chasing rabbits never to be caught…

rustling quilts and bodies rearranging in the night..i clutch the monitor and wait

©2017

walls

in this room, unchanged by time, you lie

asleep, peaceful in your unknowing

nothing changes here…the cards from events long past still open on your bureau

photographs from your previous life, almost forgotten now by some. mementos, keepsakes, pieces of the you who was

i know you as a part of myself, you need not speak. i feel your needs. my lingering son…still handsome and strong

©2017

dreaming

oh, son of mine..

in sleep untouched by the world’s raging

you rest, seeming unaware of what keeps me awake in the darkness.

but deep, in a part of you i cannot reach, you are aware of more than all of us. of the truths that really matter. if only you could speak.

so i wait, rocking quietly in time with your shallow breaths. tell me your secrets. tell me what you dream.

©2017