I Should Have


It was  your hazel eyes that anchored me to that  day,
eyes grown so large in your ruined body,
pleading , begging me to leave the mask off your face,
you were dying and you knew it, 
even as we denied it,
burying that terrible truth in small talk
of train schedules and plans for tomorrow’s trip back to sit at your side,
when tomorrow was right there in your eyes.
 You begged for this bit of control,
knowing that the  oxygen was useless where you were going
wanting those last few hours mask-free,
Please leave it off,  you whispered,
your eyes widening into  gigantic pools of grief,
breaking my  broken heart.
The doctors never told us you were dying,
 maybe I should have known,
all the usual signs were there,
and especially telling, 
the nurses wouldn’t look me in the eye.
Putting the mask back on your sad face
was the right thing for them to do,
but your daughter who can still see your hazel eyes
whenever I look in the mirror
could have (should have) let you do it your way.
    Yesterday morning I read  this  poem  here: ‘Life’s A Bitch’  written by Viv Blake  and posted on her blog.   It greatly  moved me and   prompted me to write about my own  father’s last hours, something I’ve never been able to do. 
    If I knew then what I know now, I would have  let him call the shots.

29 thoughts on “I Should Have

  1. I’m so glad to have given you the impetus to write this deeply felt poem. I hope this will help disperse any guilt you may have felt, and allow you to look past the death to the life that you had shared.


  2. WoW !
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful expression of your love for your father.

    It is my personal belief that parents do the best they can, on any given day, with the information and experience they have. I believe children do the same. By sharing this, I also believe that you will have helped other adults with decisions they have to make in similar instances.

    Thank you for sharing this heart felt poem … I’m hoping that memories of happier times spent together with give you peace of heart and soul.

    Thank you again…Peace and love,
    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  3. The 21st was the 5 yr anniversary of my dad passing — this hits home … the conflict between their thoughts and knowing direction and ours — not wanting them to give up and leave. I can certainly understand why you may not have been able to write it sooner, but I hope it helps the healing continue. Nicely done!!


  4. Oh my, this is wonderful. I’m sense that if your Father could read this, he’d thank you for the extra time he had with you and be apologetic for putting you through such torment.
    But then you’ve used it to create such heartfelt art…so the world is a better place for it all.
    Thank you 🙂


  5. Oh Wabi, this is so heartfelt and moving, beautifully written. If only I had known that my father was dying I would have spent more time with him. He still lies unburied in the morgue, waiting for tradition to dictate.


    • Oh my! That must be so difficult for you not to have the comfort of closure. When did he pass and what is the tradition that prevents burial? I think we all have regrets about the time we didn’t spend with our loved ones. I try to focus on the times I was there, remembering the good times.Peace to you, Celestine. And thanks for your visits to my poetry.


      • You are very welcome, Wabi. M yfather died on 16th November 2012. He was a chief and tradition demands that he be kept for a while before the official announcement of the death. After that, there will be a one week celebration of death in his memory and then the burial and funeral dates will be announced. That could be now or never and you can imagine the morgue fees and other expenses that would be accumulated.


  6. Emotions well-up within me…I’m so glad that Viv’s piece brought you to this place. I pray for healing for you…that the things you wished had been that weren’t that it’s okay and that somehow he knows. ♥


  7. This poem takes my breath away. You have captured the difficult moments so well. I do understand his need for control those last moments. There were, after all, so little he could control. He knew…really…he knew. And I do understand him not wanting that oxygen mask…and I understand why this memory haunts you. I feel so much in this poem. I know it must have been hard (but hopefully catharctic) to write! Peace.


  8. Very touching poem, I think for some that have gone through this you will always wonder what if or did you do the right thing. It’s only human nature we second guess our decisions after they are made but we have to live with it and accept the choice we made.


  9. Oh you wrote this from your heart and sent it straight into ours. You have captured the end hours of a life so well, including how people dont talk about it, and avoid your glance…….the main thing is – you were there, with him. That was what meant the most to him. Powerful writing, that moves the reader. The very best kind of poem.


  10. My father passed suddenly over 30 yrs ago on Jan 21st. It still haunts me…
    I have often thought, what it would be like to say good-bye?!
    Thank you for this touching poem, it is sad and filled with the wonder of how we confront this path…! There is grace in your poem and the guidance to be more open for the next encounter~ Thank you for sharing!


  11. WaibiSaibi,

    A most profound and moving poem. It had the sense of great love, in the face of having to let go. Moments of realisation which we all face, before and after such a loss.
    Thank you for being so courageous and putting this into words.

    Thank you for your much appreciated visit and comments at my poem too:)


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