The Day You Slipped Away

by T
(Ohio)

You slipped away
on a Saturday
shortly after they said nothing
else could be done
Your yellow tears
slipped down towards your ears
and I wiped them away
one
by
one.

I wondered what you would have said
if you had been able to talk anymore.
If you had realized the end was near
or maybe you knew
and that's why you
shed yellow tears.
For time run out
and words unspoken
or maybe just a last
confirmation of your love.

Forgiveness?
Perhaps?

I didn't realize then
the meds they started
would mark my beginning
through waters
uncharted
A different life
without you in it

half an orphan
I wasn't eager to begin it.

You slipped away
on a Saturday
closed your eyes for all time
I didn't know then
that I would never again
see your blue eyes dance
with laughter

Your heart beat on
breaths came evenly
yet your eyes were closed
as death marched close

I had to eat
a chocolate chip cookie
by myself
(well maybe I didn't have to
but I did)
not your recipe
but we both concurred
Otis Spunkmeyer did a pretty
good job
when we shared
one of these cookies
a few weeks before
when we watched the race
at MIS on the TV
in this same hospital
but in a different room
The chocolate and sugar reminded
me
of you
which made me smile.

Others encouraged me
to talk
to you
as you hovered
between here
and there
life
and death
But I didn't want to talk
I wanted to converse.
Because that requires two,
but only one was left.
Me
and that made me sad
and miss you
though you weren't gone
yet.
a strange
juxtaposition

They were right though
those who said, "Talk"
"You need this."
"He needs it."
I thought they were crazy
what would I say?
But what if they were right
and I was wrong
about talking to someone
who seemed already gone?
I wanted to err on the right side
in case you could hear me
on the bright side
So I did.

I reminisced
by myself
(is that possible?)
I laughed
by myself
(which we both know is possible)
I cried
by myself
(also possible)
But I knew you heard
Somehow
Because I could tell
And also
because
I knew that if you would have been able
that you would have conversed
with me
Because I knew you.

And I knew that if you weren't
hovering
between here
and there
life
and death
That you would have
reminisced
laughed
maybe cried.
And that laughter
would have made your blue eyes sparkle
with delight
mischief
love

And hadn't we done just that?
You and I?
Reminisced?
Laughed?
Confessed?
Shared?
Cried?
Said things to each other
out of the desperate realization
that time was running
in short supply
and things that needed to be shared
could not be delayed?
Could it have only been a few short weeks
before you slipped away
that we did those things?
Over a race at MIS
and a contraband hospital cookie?

Time marches ever onward
atadoubletimepace
and yet
creeps
second
by
painstaking
nano-second
at an
ex-cru-ciat-ing-ly
s l o w
pace
when someone
beloved
hovers
between here
and there
life
and death.

I wanted to escape that room
It didn't smell right
not like the country
where you built our house
the sun only came in the morning
and that wasn't right
it was claustrophobic
and that wasn't right either
Certainly not like our house in the country
that was definitely
NOT claustrophobic

In that room,
where you slipped away
on Saturday
laughing seemed
weird
awkward
wrong
and healing.
Somehow

I stayed
not knowing if I wanted to be there
at the end
or not
I stayed
because you would have stayed.
and I drew strength
and somehow comfort
in knowing that
You did stay.
When it was me in a room
with a baby that hovered
between life and death
and no doctor knew what was wrong.
But you said,
"We'll get through this, T."
"We'll get her through this, T."
"It will be all right, T.
Somehow."
with your blue eyes dancing
at something I couldn't see
through the worry of a mother's heart.
You spoke
to your kid
to your granddaughter's mother
Me
through your
Father's Heart
and your
Grandfather's Heart
filled with knowledge
experience
and love.

And you were right.
We did.
get through that crisis
and a few others
Because what you taught me in
a different hospital
than the one where you
slipped away
was:
Parents don't give up.
Ever.
They just don't.
Parents don't give up on their kids.
Not ever.

Bodies might wear out
livers might quit
we might shed yellow tears
because of it
and it might make us fill up with
poison that we can no longer rid ourselves of.
But parents don't give up
on their kids
whether their kids are
4 months or 44 years.
Because of love.

But what of love?
It never quits.
love doesn't
sometimes it isn't easy
and it makes us want to quit
but we don't
because
Love is
messy and neat
hard and easy
fun and boring
beautiful and ugly
ordered and chaotic
sensible and nonsensical
scary and protected
old and new
familiar and unfamiliar
triumphant and tragic
filled with laughter
and pain
we get hurt
and angry
happy
and sad
but
love?
It never quits.

And there's comfort there
in that
not quitting
and messy
hard
and easy
triumphant
and familiar
beautiful
and nonsensical
commitment
of love.

So as you hovered between
here
and there
life
and death
we started to laugh
because that's what you would have wanted
us to do
my sisters and I.
It wasn't
disrespectful
or irreverent
it was just
us.
Doing what you taught us.
Which made us remember you
and sometimes the laughter
and memories
turned
into tears
but not for long
before someone else
remembered
something else
that made us laugh again.

like squaring up the napkin

or not driving .2 of a mile
from the house before you needed
a Pepsi
and a ham sandwich
when we were leaving
for vacation
to Florida!
and Disney World!
and we were grateful
that we could get that
for you
in a motor home
which did not require us
to delay
our departure
one!
minute!
longer!

or a different vacation
where you threatened to saw off
the tent poles
because we put it up wrong
and you couldn't figure out
the right configuration to make it
stand evenly
and the directions
were tucked away safely.
at home!

or memories of you telling stories
that made everyone laugh

or your reaction
years later
to us
sledding off of the roof
of the house that you built
for us

or being a good sport
about us
drawing characters on
our feet
and holding them up
to the window
next to notebooks
filled with stuff like
"honk if your car is red"
and
"help! we are being kidnapped"
and that it was a
good thing
no one really thought we looked
like we were in
danger
and you said,
"What are you kids doing back there?"
and we
of course said,
"Nothing.
Reading.
Writing new lyrics to old songs.
Sleeping.
Why?"
And how did the person who was
supposed to be sleeping
answer that question?!

or years later
you even learned to laugh about the
accident we had in the
Orange Car
that happened
because of fighting
and a young driver
and "You kids could have been killed."
you were right.
We could have.
But we weren't and you were
grateful to a different
Father who spared
your three daughters.
and you told us that
after you got done being mad
at us.
Which I realized later was probably not
anger, but fear over what
could have happened!

Then Monday came.
The sun came up that morning
and you were still
with us
hovering
between here
and there
life
and death.
juxtaposed

But you
were
slipping ever further
and further away
it was almost
as if I could sense it.
The end.
But when?

Then later on Monday
your blue eyes that closed
on Saturday
when you slipped away
and which I hoped would open
Once More
Did!
Just briefly.
For two seconds around 4:00pm
when they cut the compression stockings
and Ace bandages
from your legs.
I said,
"Dad?"
"Dad?"
"Can you hear me?"
I had been holding
your hand
so I squeezed it
just in case
But you couldn't respond
and I don't think you really saw
me
or anyone
really
and I knew that even if I wanted it to be
different
it couldn't be
Later, though I would say
that if I had to
I would swear
that you were looking at something
or Someone
somewhere
but not here on Earth.
But just for those few
precious seconds
I got to see your eyes
one more time
even if you didn't see me.

Then a few hours later
you were gone.
Your crazy
strong
do anything for anybody
happy
encouraging
generous
positive thinking
sometimes troubled
loving
Dad's
heart
finally stopped
at least two minutes,
maybe longer
after you took your last breath.
And the end went
atadoubletimepace
and crept
painstakingly
s l o w
maybe
even
stopped
and the earth tilted
on it's axis
when you left.

I think

Anyway it seemed like it did
and I wondered if the sun
would ever shine again.
(it did!)
Or if I would ever find laughter
again.
(I did!)
and I wondered if I would
ever see blue like the
blue of your eyes again.
(I have! In the blue sky
of an early spring day!)

It was quiet in the room
when the strongest man
I have ever known
The first man I ever loved
died.
Dad.
Left.
Gone.
For now.
But if I'm lucky
and if I'm right about Who I
think you may have seen
when you opened your
eyes for two seconds on Monday
then someday I'll see your blue eyes
dancing with laughter
and I will
hear
you say,
"It's just me, T."
Again.

But I will already know
it's you.

You slipped away
on a Saturday
but you left for
good
on Monday.

T
05/08/2012

Comments for The Day You Slipped Away

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May 27, 2012
I'm in tears...
by: Anonymous

I found this grief poem because I'm a book editor working on a book about death. Grief blogs were discussed and I decided to check them out, and found your poem. So, a professional interest... But this poem drew me into your life, and my research became an emotional response that led me to tears. I do hope writing the poem helped you, because it certainly drew an unexpected response from at least one reader. I grieved with you, not only for your loss, but for all my lost beloved ones too. Thank you.

May 26, 2012
Hope
by: Kathryn

What a poignant story you told. I feel for you so much. It is 8 years today since I lost my Dad and a lot of what you wrote rang true with me too. Grief is a hard road but one that has to be travelled. Love to you x x x

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