by Kim Ha Wadsworth, OMS III
Shedding Tears with a PatientA frail woman, head tilted back on the white pillow,
surrounded by the cold, sterile walls of the hospital room.
COPD, stable, breathing noisily.
No visitors in sight, except the chaplain and me.
She wakes up.
Her story similarly bleak.
Heart full of good intentions,
she moved across the country to help
her brother and sister-in-law cope with the loss of their son.
She remembers her nephew;
She too felt deep loss with her own son's death
five years ago; yet, feels like yesterday.
She wonders if she fully processed losing her son.
But she isn't allowed to grieve for him:
their pain is greater, more recent, more important.
She doesn’t matter.
She asks, "God why did you bring me here?"
She left behind her adult daughter to move west;
now she wants to go back home.
They make her give her social security checks to them.
Bills to pay, they say. Food to buy.
They let her stay at their house.
They think that's enough.
"I just want to die," she whispers.
We sit with her.