How do you say goodbye?

The hardest part about my job is losing a resident. It hurts…but you have to keep moving. And while you never really “get used to it”, you do learn how to handle the death of someone you’ve cared for.
The last time I lost someone, I grabbed a paper napkin and jotted this down. I’m not even sure it counts as a poem as it doesn’t even rhythm; I suppose I could have tightened it up a bit…but I don’t want to. Raw is how I felt when I wrote this. Raw is how I feel when I remember.

A last kiss on your forehead,
Still warm to the touch
But soon you’ll be cold
How do you say goodbye?
A last whispered “I love you”
Because it’s not just money
That’s luring me here
How do you say goodbye?

You were dying when I met you
They called it “going downhill”
Every day just a little worse
And now you’re dying no more
But how do I say goodbye?

Sponge down your body
You shouldn’t be so still
Wash your face, fold your hands
New sheets for the bed
I can’t say I’m sorry
You’re in pain no more
How do you say goodbye?

A last touch, then I’m done
Move on to the living
I can’t help you anymore
Seven other people
Still need me today
You’re gone and I can’t cry

Tomorrow’s here
And you’re still gone
A new face in your bed
New stories to learn
I have to keep working
And so I move on

It’s a year down the road,
And your face is fading
Sit down and cry
Because I can’t remember
How to fix your coffee
How do you remember
Everyone you’ve ever lost?
How do you say goodbye?

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Categories: CNActivist, Writing | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “How do you say goodbye?

  1. Well, SOB!

    Like

  2. Nana

    Dear Hannah May,
    This IS the BEST you have written! Oh how tender your heart and beautiful the words.
    It needed a RED banner across the top warning tissues will not do…get a bath towel.
    You wrote it about your patient, but I read it and thought of a beloved family member.
    I am so proud of who you are!
    I love you,
    Nana

    Like

  3. Just lovely.

    Like

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