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anne cunningham

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Member Since: Mar, 2002

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minding this death
by anne cunningham
Sunday, June 29, 2003

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minding this death

when you were dying
the distance between
where you lay
under your blanket
of thick morphine
was the daily math
i fussed with,
decreasing the miles
that stood between
you and me,
and the time that was left,
traveling that long road
in merely an instant.

every morning, i defied
the prescribed minutes per mile,
in order to be by your side,
family among the strangers,
bathing you, careful to avoid
your open bed wound,
clear to the bone,
your grimace telling us
you were just beyond
the edge of feeling
as we swabbed you
with warm terry and phisohex
applying new-skin
where no longer necessary.

for days, i traced circles,
on your bare shoulder,
your gown having slipped,
revealing you to me,
and revealing me to me,
in the way that i felt this same flesh,
every night, vulnerably raw,
returning home to hug myself
to myself until morning,
chanting in my brain,
a "please die/donít die" wish,
wanting your suffering to end
but struggling with the concept.

your final day, you left the room
when I just so happened
to be down the hall for but a moment,
out of your sight-unseeing.
you had "almost died" just
moments before this, sitting upright,
eyes wide open, staring far beyond me,
as purple-green liquid leaked
from your mouth ,
splashing onto your gown,
as if you were full to the top
with a child's mixed watercolors
-a real beautiful mess.

after this color wash,
the nurses wanted to bathe you,
this time in private, telling us,
"take a walk, a breather,"
but where do you go
when you are waiting
for someone you love
to stop breathing, cease being?
so we walked in circles,
doubling back to your room
in time to hear, you were "gone,"
as they finished the rote count
of your pulse x nothing x nothing,
one last glance to the ticking clock

i sat down hard with the rest,
at your bedside in wait,
for the molten lava release
of your tearing loose from us,
a soul's excision, the ripping
of my gut at your exit wound,
but i felt nothing at first,
could not wrap my insides
around your being "gone,"
thinking, funny that! maybe Ö
she is not gone, perhaps in me still,
and for one lone moment,
there was peace enough.

but this notion
was only temporary salve,
the necessity of the loss,
was far outweighed by grief,
the coming days only going to show
it is impossible to keep joy,
still ever so minding this death.
and I have struggled now,
years upon years,
to separate from you,
with great difficulty,
since the very obstacle standing
between me letting go of you
is the very flesh of your shoulder.

it's there in the shower
each time i bathe,
or lies stark, late at night,
pressed to cold sheets,
reminding me i can feel you
because you feel like me.
far beneath a lover's
tender touch, drawing in circles,
upon still-drawn circles,
i still have to urge myself,
in reminder and mantra,
"just breathe,
just keep breathing."

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Reviewed by Nicole Davis Vergara (Reader) 6/30/2003
This is a excellant piece chronicling the the tender transition of caring for someone you love to losing them eternally, and working in a Nursing Home I further commend you for doing something that it seems most families now a days wouldn't do!!!!
Reviewed by jude forese 6/29/2003
sometimes distance is measured in how close we aren't...
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 6/29/2003
so moving and heartfelt!!
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor (Reader) 6/29/2003
A magnificent journey of love and loss. Beautifully done. Bravo.
Reviewed by Aamie Burnley 6/29/2003
... how selfishly i breathe, knowing there is so much peace in never having been loved, and never having to live without it. bless you, my dear, god loves us in their absence, here and 'gone'.
Reviewed by Sandie Angel 6/29/2003
This was so moving and heartfelt sad! I feel your pain of loss too.

May Lu a.k.a. Sandie Angel :o(
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