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The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2017 Semester 2

I’ve chosen to write a poem, as I thought this would introduce a bit of welcome variation into my assessments. I also thought that this emotional experience might be better represented through more emotional means, such as creative writing.

The thing that stood out the most for me was the very different way in which this woman and her whanau saw the world. To them, this was a journey that was filled with miracles. The patient had little-to-no fear or trepidations about what was to come. I thought that this was remarkable and showcased the power and therapeutic benefit of having something greater than yourself to believe in (be it religion or family or other interests.)

PDF version of "Waiting for Miracles"

The steeples soar
Bathed in cool winter sunlight
Rising from the valley beyond the window
They wait for her at a benevolent distance
She doesn’t look, though knows they are there
Their bells beckon to her, an old friend calling

Her eyelids are like anvils
Her fatigue like a vacuum
It pulls on the room around her
A soporific for all those present
But she’s not ready to close them yet
I’ve got too much living to do, she chirps

This was where it began, the fatigue
She slowed to a halt without resistance or complaint
Slowly it consumed her
Disregarding her strength
Circumventing her will
Fearing nothing

The doctors loved her, almost as much as they feared her
They feared their honesty
They feared saying it out loud
They moved around it
Grappling for roundabout words
Longing for a barrier, any piece of armour
Any shield against her kind tired eyes
She isn’t afraid
She knows

They offer to take her pain away, to make her comfortable
But she isn’t in any pain, she never has been
It’s locked away behind her wan smile
Buried under a mountain of peace and grace
She has her faith
She has her strength
All she asks for is honesty

She’s grateful to them all
To the doctors, the nurses, the whanau
She’s grateful for the little things they do, the little miracles
She’s grateful for the flowers that come with her meals
She’s grateful for the music the chaplain brings her
She’s grateful for hymns and prayers that plaster the walls

By day, her daughters and sisters watch over her
By night, her husband returns
Decades of love and devotion is now vulnerable and exposed
His bed lies perpendicular to hers
Their heads almost touching
No longer are they side-by-side, their journeys are diverging

Whanau corralled her
Taking up their new posts around the old guard
Their eyes are full, threatening to overflow should their thoughts stray
Her eyes are dry
Her thoughts are clear
She knows

There’s no shadow at the foot of her bed
Only whanau and faith
There’s no solemn end waiting for her
Only soaring steeples and little miracles
She knows where she’s going and she isn’t afraid
This is a journey
She’s content
She knows