Asphyxiated by the device
meant to grant you life
you pleaded to be released.
through your veins
fighting to give you strength-
they only imprisoned you.
aware of the
commotion about you.
through it all
your eyes were
locked onto mine.
“Help me let go” was your plea.
You grabbed my hand
shook your head
as if you knew this act
had been playing
As if someone had
interrupted your journey
toward the place
you were meant to go.
So we released you.
Withdrew your tube
diminished your drips.
Severed the chains that bound you.
We comforted you.
toward your children.
Through a surge of strength
you assured them
it would be okay-
that through your going on
they would go on.
Then you turned back to me.
of your last moments
you entrusted them to me.
You held my hand
held my gaze.
“Thank you,” was what you said.
And then you took your last breath.
And let us go.
• • •
This patient has been in my heart lately. This post is a re-sharing of an account of our last encounter. A gentle reminder to treasure each moment given.
• • •
The Background Story
Continue reading “To Let Go.”
Once when I was on a specialized heart failure service, I took care of a teenage boy. He had a form of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (a weak, enlarged heart), and he had a huge heart…in more ways than one.
He loved baseball, pumpkin pie, and horses. His family owned a farm, so before he got sick, he would often go horseback riding. He also loved to draw.
We—a team of five physicians—took care of him for a month while he was waiting for a heart transplant. He liked us. We liked him. So he drew us as well.
I thought he was clever. But he thought I was even more so. All because he liked my joke:
“What do you call a cow with no legs?”
That was it. He was just a great kid, trying his best to live the life given to him.
It used to be, that at the end of our visits, we would both say to each other, “Ground beef!” with a wink and a huge smile. It perplexed the other physicians, but we knew exactly what we were talking about.
It was just a silly joke. But for the two of us, it somehow meant something more.
I found out recently that he passed away. And today I found the drawing he gave me. And I wept.
So here’s to you, dear buddy…
Ground beef 😉
• Monteagudo, Bolivia •
Meet little Luis– otherwise known as my partner in crime. He was a regular visitor to the hospital, as his father had tuberculosis and was undergoing a long course of treatment.
Continue reading “Little Luis.”
• Melchor de Mencos, Belize •
Meet the Aguado household. A place where love runs deep…simple are the joys…and wide are the smiles that shield the scars aching to heal beneath.
Here we see one of the effects of inaccessible health care. Where fathers lose their lives to otherwise treatable diseases, leaving two mothers and seven children with little more than the lingering fragrance of memories.
Here we also see a strength undeniable. Where the youngest to the eldest come together to care for one another…encourage one another…support one another.
And finally, we see ‘little Juan,’ whose palpable nonchalance tells you really all that you need to know:
He is now the man of the family.
Continue reading “Behind the Smile.”