Pride and Joy
Heavy pockets carry gems
Collected one by one.
Until the end.
Water running past my feet.
Water rushing to my knees.
The one’s I chased
Until the end.
Memories of a forgotten man.
Memories of his calloused hands,
And my tiny palms
Until he was gone.
And his pretty gems.
Collected one by one
Until the end.
Water rushing over feet.
Shiny gems meet the sea.
Two Little Girls: One’s a Little Older
Black hair inches forward
Cascading into the grey of a winter’s evening.
Lines dance upon an unmarked canvas
Telling stories of joy and worry.
I look at her,
As she stares at the setting sun.
The dreamy embers reflected in
Her steady eyes.
Until the light disappears,
And they become hollow.
Another day has ended
Time has stolen it away.
I find myself wanting,
For the ability to pluck
the sun up from its resting place,
And the strength
To hold it in the sky.
I am no match for time.
He laughs at us.
Two little girls
As we challenge him,
As we make bold claims
Of youth and immortality.
She no longer chants with me,
Her eyes have been frosted over,
Her gaze focused on the horizon.
She sits with our enemy
Enjoys his company.
They share stories
And laugh at their memories.
I warn her
Of the weapon he holds
The one he keeps in plain sight.
But she pays no attention.
When I’m not looking,
He takes her away.
Before I can think to say
Sara Johnson’s Final Year
Young Sara Johnson was just 24,
When dear death knocked at her door.
She was not ready to leave this great earth,
to be part of the cycle of death and birth.
“I want to live,” to death she decreed.
Death was interested, so he agreed.
He gave her a gift of only one year.
“Thank you so much,” she said, eyes full of tears.
She had a full year from January to December.
She needed to make it one to remember.
January was cold and sad and dreary.
She didn’t know how to make this year cheery.
So she moved back in with mom and dad.
They didn’t understand why their daughter was sad.
They told her “you’re in law school, a real success”
What she was feeling, they couldn’t guess.
Her life had been books, struggle, and study.
She had no fun, no romance, no buddies.
She quit law school and decided to travel this earth.
Weeks of dancing and drinking filled her with mirth.
February came and she still wasn’t happy.
She grew restless, on edge, and frankly quite snappy.
She had no responsibilities, life was all fun.
It wasn’t enough, she needed things to get done.
In March she made sure to visit family and friends
She gave gifts, had fun, and made her amends.
In April, she caught up with Jamie, a peer.
They hit it off over some beers.
In May she and Jamie turned from friends into lovers.
They spent many nights together under the covers.
In June she got started on that book she wanted to write.
To her surprise writing filled her with wonder and delight.
Afterward, in the dark moments, she started writing letters.
When she left, she wanted to leave things better.
These letters she sealed and hid far away.
She hoped her family would find them on her parting day.
In July, she worked at shelters and soup kitchens,
Doing everything she could to pitch in.
In August she enjoyed her last days of summer.
She went to the beach, attended concerts, and befriended a drummer.
In September, the leaves began to change color and fall.
She knew she didn’t have enough time left for it all.
That month was quiet and she was alone.
She started reading up on the things that she hadn't known.
Come October she once again was with her mates.
She drank and ignored her impending fate.
November was a time of friends, family, and laughter.
She did her best to ignore what would come after.
In December she became hyper-aware of her time
She was going to die soon, still in her prime.
Every moment became something to remember,
Until the 31st of that fateful December.
She tried to throw a party, so death couldn't get her alone,
But Death only took her into his own home.
“Your time has come, I hope you’re ready,” he said.
She took a deep breath and nodded her head.
“Thank you for your gift of an additional year,”
It’s the first year I lived without expectations or fears.”
Death stared at her, his face calm and stern.
“Looks like you humans can actually learn.”
With that comment, he put his hand on her heart.
And with that, Sara Johnson began to depart.
The Art of Letting Go
“I want to stop chemo,” Vidhya said softly, though she knew he heard her. The words had been stuck in her throat for the past few months now. She was tired and weak and she was going to die. She knew it was just a matter of time, the cancer had progressed too far and there was no point in continued treatment. She knew the end was coming, but first, she wanted to live a little.
“We can’t stop now,” Rohan said, anger rising in his voice. Vidhya knew it wasn’t her he was angry yet, but Rohan was impulsive and she was scared he’d do something he’d regret. “We can’t stop now, the doctors say with more treatment you could get better. It’s still possible,’’ he pleaded. They both knew what he was saying wasn’t true. The doctors said that all more treatment could do was buy time. Time she wished she spent outside of the hospital room.
“You know that’s not true,” she said carefully. Vidhya was all Rohan had left. She loved her little brother, but she knew he could not sway her decision.
“Maybe it could be true, please, just keep doing it for a few more months,” he pleaded again. He couldn’t lose her, not after all they’d gone through. “I can’t live without you.’”
Now that was a punch in the gut. The reason she had taken treatment for so long was to keep him hopeful. She was afraid of what might happen to him after she left. He was only 19 and didn’t trust the world. She had saved some money, though the cancer treatment had been eating at her savings. The money wasn’t what she was worried about though, she was more worried about leaving him alone. She wanted him to go out and make friends, but he seemed to spend his life trapped in this hospital room with her. Her treatment wasn’t helping anyone and it was time to end it.
“I’ve made my decision,” she said finally, her voice firmer than it was before. “I love you chinnu, but it is time for me to go. Don’t make it harder for me than it is already.”
She looked tired, and Rohan knew she was, but if she stopped now she could die in months. His sister deserved more than this short life. He thought chemo could prolong it, but deep down he knew that this wasn’t the life she wanted to live. With her time left, she could travel and see the world. He knew this, yet there was something so hard about letting go. He wanted her to stay with him, he couldn’t face this cruel world alone.
“Alright, ” he whispered, tears running down his cheeks. He didn’t like it. He didn’t want to lose her, but it was time his sister came home.
When It’s Time, It’s Time
Delores was tired. She had been tired for a long time now. Her 86 years on Earth had been a mixture of happiness, grief, and confusion, and looking back on it now, she loved every moment of it. She knew what was coming, she could feel it in the air these past few weeks. For a long time, death had loomed over her head. She was afraid of it, afraid of what could come after. She was partly religious but more spiritual than anything else. Still, in a secular world, she felt crazy sometimes for believing that there was something on the other side. She questioned herself on more than one occasion and had cried multiple times because she could not fathom life off this earth. Now, she felt silly, so silly for overthinking it all. Her time was coming and she had made peace with it. There was no more pressure to live. She had done all that already. She had learned, loved, and lived to the best of her ability. She had climbed mountains, raised three children, and danced her heart out. Her husband was gone now and her family far away, but she felt okay. Now, laying in bed in a quiet room, she didn’t feel so alone. She couldn’t quite describe it, but she no longer felt herself. It was as if the spirit inside her was ready to join the rest of the universe. After spending some time looking at photos and reliving the past 86 years, she closed her eyes for the last time. It was time to let go.
Johan was afraid, he was afraid of dying. Ever since his diagnosis he had spent too much time in the hospital. He heard codes called over the speakers and knew the result when the nurses walked in with blank expressions. He was 43 now, and after 2 years in and out of the hospital, he knew he didn’t have much time left. The end was coming, but he wasn’t as scared as he expected to be. He asked to go home earlier this week, much to his doctor’s dismay. Dr.Fredricks was young and ambitious, he did not like failure. Sadly, that was exactly what Johan was, another life that could not be saved. Cancer was like that sometimes, it bested even the most strong-willed opponents. The air was heavy at home these past few days. His wife had cried enough for the both of them and his kids seemed to know that their time with their dad was limited. Why else would they spend so much time with him as opposed to their phones and videogames? In all honesty, he appreciated their company, because despite knowing what was coming he didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to make peace with it all, but he was still afraid. After spending so much time undergoing chemo and surgery, he was sure he could handle any pain that death brought. The fear was no longer in the process itself, but what would come after. He wasn’t religious, he never had been. He didn’t know what to expect on the other side. His biggest fear was that it would be darkness, an endless oblivion. He wanted there to be something, yet he didn’t know what. As the weeks went on, he felt himself fading further from reality. It was getting close now. He expected it to happen at night, in the darkness, but it was midday. His wife was at work and his children at school. He wanted to make it to the bed but didn’t seem to have the energy. He rested his head on the couch and knew that it was time to let go. It was time and he wasn't afraid anymore.
Kelly was confused. She didn’t quite know what was happening. The last thing she remembered was fighting with her boyfriend in the car. She was so angry and then all of a sudden she wasn’t in control anymore. She opened her eyes to find two women looking frantic. She heard various words of assurance, but couldn’t quite piece the sentences together. She was 23, far too young for this. She wondered where Kyle was. Did he make it out of the car? She couldn't even remember why she was angry with him. She couldn’t remember anything from the incident. She tried to get up, but her body disobeyed her. She wasn’t in pain, though she suspected that it was the shock of it all. She watched as doctors filled the room, they looked terrified and she couldn’t imagine why. What was happening? Her mind couldn’t piece everything together fast enough, yet she felt okay. She wanted to reach out to her doctors and tell them the same thing. She didn’t quite know what was going on, but she knew it was her time. It was time to leave, time to let go. It was sudden and chaotic, but she felt okay. She hadn't lived long, but she wasn’t afraid of leaving so soon. She was more worried for those she’d leave behind. As the frantic voices around her faded away, she was able to find peace. It was warm and loving and she knew that everything would make sense soon enough.
No matter who we are, death takes us eventually. We might be ready for it, or we may not be. No one knows what’s on the other side, but I hope that none of you feel afraid as we go. Whether we are young or old, we all must go some time. It can sometimes be a long process or come as a surprise. I trust that you all find peace in the process and live your precious time on earth to the fullest. My fellow humans, I love every one of you. Do not fear the end, for the present is what matters the most right now.
It hurts me
To see him in so much pain.
The father who raised me,
Looking so plain.
I want to help him,
Show him things can improve.
I want to help him,
But what can I do?
I can’t control my mother
The papers have arrived
A 7 letter word
That would make any child cry.
It is normal,
Yet so final,
I can deal with it,
but my father feels bad.
I want to help him,
That much is true.
But I am only one person
What can I do?
Footprints in the Snow
I trace footprints in the snow.
Where they went, now I go.
It grows colder as the sky grows dark.
So I guide myself through their marks.
Expectation has been put on me now.
To be a daughter, a sister and keep my vows,
Those thoughts ring in my mind
As I walk the path they have assigned.
I trace the footprints around the bend.
The snow still falls, but the footprints end.
I am left alone and cold without a guide,
Without them where should I stride.
It is getting darker and I’m feeling cold.
Where should I go without being told?
I have followed directions all my days
Seeking warmth, seeking praise.
Here, I do what I’ve never done,
I leave my own footprints one by one.