All Poetry

To Let Go.

Despair.

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.

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 and the founder of Pendants for a Cause–a nonprofit organization that creates handcrafted sea glass jewelry for the purpose of raising funds to fight illness and provide care to medically vulnerable populations around the world.


73 replies »

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these two very intensely moving and thoughtful poems, which were straight from your heart. We need to discuss death more nad have a better understanding of the dying process and maybe lose some of our fear in the process. Dying does terrify me but my fears are abating after the close calls I’ve had.
    I can appreciate how you feel about your patient. I’m very close to all my doctors and when I had the flare up 2 years ago, I could see how upset they were too. We are on this journey together. My rheumatologist actually died about 2 years ago and that hit me. The doctor patient relationship isn’t straight forward but there can be some incredibly close ties.
    By the way, as I’m typing Bilbo is draped across my lap. He doesn’t usually come up and I suspect he’s still rattled by the storms xx Rowena

    • Hi Rowena 🙂

      Thank you for sharing this. It comforts my heart whenever I hear about experiences such as yours…it reassures me that the genuine patient-physician rapport has not been totally lost, and that it’s still very possible these days. I can only speak on the side of the caregiver, but I promise you that your physicians equally appreciate the relationship you share. I wish you the very best!

      And give Bilbo an extra hug for me. He’s such a wonderful (and wonderfully handsome) companion! 😀

      -phoebe

      • You’re welcome, Phoebe. That relationship is very important, especially where there’s a complex or rare medical problem and it’s only through the detail that the vital clues can be found.
        Bilbo would love an extra hug. He said anyone who calls him handsome is a friend of his…even if they have a cat! xx Rowena

  2. Some say the bravest thing is to live……others say the bravest thing is to let go…..I think the bravest thing is living life as best you can then having a family and carer who are able to let go and allow the journey to continue……..when the time has come.

    Beautifully written and most sensitive poem…………..
    Pam

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