Anything but Numb

We’re taught to separate
our selves, 
com part mentalize,
move on
to the next task

I woke up to the news today
that we’d likely lose him. 

I woke up his daughter today
to tell her this news. 

She wasn’t expecting it.
He’d had a transplant;
was doing well, until
he wasn’t. 

Separate your self, they’d say.
An. Impossible. Task. 

I was part of the story;
the story was part of me.  

Yes, I felt the grief. Deeply.
I also witnessed the beauty
as a father died with his children
and with his wife by his side. 

  A gift only some receive.  

Love. Grief. Loss.
Beauty. Pain. Peace.  

  Not-a-one comes from numb.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

This person was a fellow working with cancer patients. She shared that it had already been a difficult day because she lost one of her patients in the morning. “I ended up waking up his daughter with the news that her father had become very sick, and may die today,” she said. “It’s hard to be the one to convey that news.” She told me the family was able to make it to the hospital before he passed. While it was incredibly sad to witness their experience of grief, she also saw the beauty in it because she had seen so many others die alone over the past year. “It reminded me that grief is proof there was love. But they don’t teach us what to do with our grief. We’re taught to separate ourselves; move on,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to slow down and share about this. As I do, I can feel the tingling in my shoulders; I can feel my body relax. I’d like the poem to be a reminder that it’s okay to feel.”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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