A caregiver uses poetry to work through their husband's cancer journey.
During Harry Small's journey as a caregiver for his husband Alan during his pancreatic cancer, he wrote his feelings through each step as a series of poems to share.
I don’t know how he feels
I don’t know for sure how I feel
I know my head hurts from crying
Both with another person or by myself
I need help. I speak to many people
Great words coming from them
Some relief, but temporary.
Being with him while he sleeps, while he’s up.
What’s going on?
Fight, please fight.
I never knew that I had all these tears in my system.
Seems like I lost many pounds, tearful pounds
My hurting heart cries out to me
To shed these tears.
The tears of joy just knowing him for thirty years of love.
Watching him decline was dreadful but
My heart and eyes still converted the dread to love
My love knows no end for him and
He will always send it back to me no matter where he is.
As he lies here ready to let go
Barely looking like the image in my mind of him
My love just manifests that this is the exact same man
That I met and married
Together for almost thirty years.
Thirty years of love, covered up sometimes
By nasty thoughts and words.
Not speaking but silent for days.
Now I know why he lost so much weight
It’s God’s acknowledgment that he is a very special,
Alan is creating more room in heaven for
More people to feel comfortable and welcome.
There is no crowding in Heaven.
Space is needed to be created on earth first.
Space to accept all people here.
No matter who they are, not what they are.
Sometimes it’s difficult to do this, even for me.
This tender loving person has shown me the way.
As I sit here day in and day out just two feet away
From his hospital bed in our apartment
And stare over at him and ask Why? No answer
So, I know that I needed to create one.
Our lives are fragile at best
And fragile at worst.
BEING NEAR LOVE
My decision to keep him here with me
While he is departing our world keeps me heart broken
But speaking to him every thirty minutes even without the smallest response
Keeps me with him because he does hear.
Our friends have called every day just to let him know that they love him
And the experience of having him in their lives.
I am sad that he is going through this, but he is pain free.
I am happy that I chose to bring him here, near me, in our home
I never experienced happiness and sadness at the same time.
My heart is broken and mending rapidly.
My experience of loving him has blossomed and consumed me
My thoughts sneak back to some bad moments
But my love outweighs them, and love returns rapidly
Don’t wait to be near love all the time.
Too much happening at one time
The efficiency making me nervous
I want it all to slow down
I guess to keep him here with me longer.
He looked peaceful, at rest, maybe even glad it’s over.
I kept looking at him thinking he would move
Hoping he would
Stroking his head and rubbing his arms
Felt the same when he was breathing
Then they came.
Forms to sign (print then write, print then write)
Please slow down. I want him here longer
Stroking his head feels the same when…..
Holding his hand feels the same when he was…..
Another man showed up
For the body and not the spirit
Do you want the under sheet?
Do you want the top sheet, top one I’ll keep
They gave me the choice to stay in the room
Or go into another room
And knock when he was gone
I should have stayed to say goodbye again
Oxygenator out, people out, silence, stillness, peacefulness
After everyone left my sister came up to me
We sighed at the same time without looking at each other
Or is it just starting?
Moments of sobbing, head throbbing
Breaking down, I just want to sleep
Staring at times, don’t want to think
Writing this, writing this
The call comes in
We’ll pick up the hospital bed and oxygen tomorrow
No, no, please make it today
Don’t want to stare at them any longer
Was going to start cleaning out stuff
But not, really
So, I made my sister two dozen dollar buttermilk pancakes with blueberries
Just want to sleep
And wake up two years ago
A dream, to dream
Back to now.
He would tell me he’s fine
Even when he fell, he was always fine
I discovered someone who cleared things up for me
He didn’t want me to suffer
I’m sensitive, so he said, “I’m fine”.