Their words hit me
like cement being poured.
“She’s taken a turn for the worse.
She’s been moved to the ICU.
We have put her in a medically induced coma.”
The cement, quicksand.
My brother and I
sitting in chairs beside your hospital bed.
sitting in a row. The only sound —
A tube pushes air into your lungs
forcing you to breathe —
willing you to stay alive.
Our prayers and whispers,
a soothing chant.
“Stay alive, Momma. Please stay alive.”
My own broken heart,
“Momma I’m sorry for my last words
while you were still awake.
Words I said in anger.
I didn’t mean it.
The guilt is eating me from the inside.”
The cement begins to harden.
“I don’t know how to do life without you.
Please wake up, Momma. Please I need you.”
I read you a poem,
I sing you a song.
“Momma, can you hear me?
Momma, are you there?”
Across the screen —
Across space and time.
The numbers all turn to zero.
Flatlined. Alarms blaring.
“She’s gone,” the nurse gently whispers.
“Take as much time as you need.”
The tube, still forcing air into your body,
but the soul is no longer there.
“Please make it stop,” I wail. The breathing tube
making your lifeless body move —
an illusion of life
where there is only death.
I hold your hand
I kiss your forehead
the way you used to kiss mine
so many times
when you were still alive.
And time stands still.
I sit there
for a very long time.
Holding your hand,
I notice how the nail of your thumb
while the rest of your nails turn
various shades of blue.
“Come back, Momma, please.
Please, Momma, I need you.”
Empty space. Hollow void. Shattered heart.
Primal wails escape my lips —
and I wonder who it is that is screaming.
Not recognizing my own voice.
The nurse says,
“Please quiet down. There are other patients…”
But my grief does not care.
My grief is not silent
nor are my apologies.
I can’t take back what I’ve said.
There will be no forgiveness.
There will be no making amends.
Ghosts have never haunted me
the way my last words to you have.
Six years, now.
Six years since you’ve been gone.
The tears of rain fell —
in an attempt to save my soul.
Redemption, white and pure as snow.
And yet, I can’t seem to let my grief or guilt go.
I’m forever haunted, still.