Belated Goodbye

The sadness seems to deepen
every time I remember
the ending that had no closing 

I’m left with a lingering feeling,  wondering:
what is it like
to lose a doctor? 

Do you know how much I cared?  How
much I still care?
How often I still think about you? 

We never had a chance to say goodbye, or cry,
or hug, or toast
to honor all those years 

Now today, all I can do
is offer this apology into the ether and hope it
will find its way to you

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

A few years ago, this physician had given up her practice to move into a medical administrative role. She told me she’d needed to leave because of the circumstances at the clinic and the stress of a clumsy and reviled electronic medical record system. Now, she missed the connection with patients. She regretted not adequately saying goodbye or having more closure, especially with her long-term patients. She recounted the story of one particular patient with whom she had developed a strong connection over more than two decades. “She might not know how much I actually cared about her; how much I still do,” she said. “Maybe she felt like I just dropped her; like there was no ending.” She wanted the poem to give words to the disappointment and sadness she still felt today about the lack of closure with this particular patient. She wanted to offer an apology, as if she were talking to her patient.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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