Beside Her

I read the following poem at a reading recently. It was written as I sat with my mother in the last year of her life.

We sit in silence
holding hands,
one ancient,
one old.

She asks about me.
I talk about work.
"I love pickled liver."
"What made you think 
of pickled liver?"
"I thought that's what you said."
I stop talking.
Linear conversation is hard.

I am old.
She is my mother,
residing between reality
and a world within her,
hearing things that are not said,
believing things 
that are not meant.

She is dying,
struggling to breathe.
She is afraid.
Afraid of the unknown
    of the suffering to come
       of dying
          of dying alone.

"I will be ok," she says.
"Will you be ok?"
She worries about me.
"Are you ready?" I ask.
"Yes. Are you?"

Back and forth
between fear
and acceptance.
Fear ultimately wins.

We sit in silence
holding hands,
one ancient,
one old, 



  1. Jodi Christiansen says

    This reminds me of the time I spent taking care of my Mother when she was no longer able to live alone. I would do it all again to spend the time with her.

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