Death & Dying, Life & Living, Poetry

eternal anguish

At some point in most dementia care partners’ experience they will find themselves on this battleground: wishing for their loved one the peace that comes with death, while feeling immense grief at the prospect of losing them. The resulting mix of emotions — compassion, guilt, longing, regret, sorrow and more — is exceedingly difficult to cope with.

This poem is about the heart-wrenching conversations one has with self and the powers that be at those times. It’s the second version of a poem i called “a daughter’s prayer to god,” which I first wrote in 2014, after Mom came “this close” to dying.

eternal anguish

©2019 punkie

eternal anguish

please take her lord,
oh no not yet!
i’m afraid
i might forget

how she smiles
and laughs and cries,
it’s not the time
to say goodbye

but I can’t bear
to see her so
perhaps today
is when she should go

is it selfish
when i wonder
how long before
she’s six feet under?

oh my god
don’t take her now
no, this can’t be
her final bow

let us play
another scene
in which she doesn’t
lay serene

a corpse upon
a broken bed
that’s not my mom
she can’t be dead

she’s the one
who gave me life
who saw me through
both joy and strife

don’t take her god
i need her here,
by my side
forever near

i promise lord
that I’ll be good
and do exactly
as I should

i won’t lie
or kill or loot
or disrespect
an older coot

i’ll love my neighbour
if only you will
set her free

to dance and sing
like we once did
when I was no more
than a kid

please don’t take her
oh no please don’t
i wish you would,
and that you won’t

i know deep down
it’s peace she seeks,
every day
week after week

she craves her home
amidst the stars
her life beyond
these prison bars

but when she breathes
in fits and starts
who will call
the funeral cart?

in this game
where life’s at stake
we’re helpless
to decisions make

it’s in your hands, god,
you call the shots:
undo this heart
tied up in knots

around the rosie
we will sing
lord have mercy
you are the king


©2019 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry widely, but please do not reblog or copy and paste my poems into other social media without my permission. Thank you.

a daughter’s prayer to god

don’t mourn me long

dying with my mom

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