All Poetry

To Let Go.


Asphyxiated by the device
meant to grant you life

you pleaded to be released.

Lines running
through your veins
fighting to give you strength-

they only imprisoned you.

always present
aware of the
commotion about you.

Bustling nurses
weeping children

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
long enough.

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.

You turned
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.

Though undeserving
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

Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH
Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

As a physician, author, and managing editor of PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry, Dr. Chi aims to inspire, educate, and empower the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, founder and designer at Pendants for a Cause, and a minion to her cat, Samantha.

73 replies »

  1. Excellent piece, Phoebe! A reminder of past times (nursing experiences) and present times (letting go) and the cornucopia of choices we all live with!

  2. A lovely piece of writing…. and a topic which is perhaps generally overlooked. I am always disappointed when I hear people demand their rights to allow a death, a suicide, an abortion etc. knowing full well that they are not going to be the one to actually facilitate it. Somewhere in the process is going to be a doctor with a conscience of his/her own; with sensitivities which may be offended, and with a memory which may never erase the event. Yes …….. we (the general public) may well have our rights, but let us not forget the people that will be asked to perform our will. A very sensitive read. Thank you.

    • A very thoughtful comment; thank you. I agree that a matter such as this is difficult for all parties involved, even the caregiver. I can only share my experience as one who is providing care, and these moments are never easy, no matter how many times I have encountered it.

      Wishing you and Ray the best 🙂

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