in memory of Aimee Schultz Losse
April 24, 1918 – February 27, 2002   

“Purge me with hyssop, and wash me, . . .”  Psalm 51:7

We took Aimee to the hospital
in the wee hours of Thanksgiving. And I saw
medical workers insert a tube through her nose.

That was before the feast
that should have been—no, was—but got delayed,
as they drilled us for reasons (in ER),
for justification

for the many pills we brought along
to keep her body in a fragile balance,
gone—unknowingly—with a broken sternum,
from the accident in Shelby.

We saw coffee-ground vomit,
knew only some of the answers, felt
reprimanded by staff doctors,
for ignorance, for nocturnal confusion.  Still,

up for a day and a half,
I know what dehydration is
and tried hard to prevent its happening.

At home, I washed soiled sheets,
not for love (nor lack of it) but to put things
right. I moved like a poet—laboring—
under the weight of the burden of truth.

And once,
when we came to visit and found her unclean
with a powerful stench wafting in the air,
she waved us away with bony fingers,
hiding her face in a cotton blanket.

The nurse would clean her. We’d eat
hospital-chicken. But by accident, we left our
money in the car and—discovering our oversight—

left food near the register, fled
into the cleansing rain, much needed and ever-so-
welcome like the promises found in the canon of God.

Yes. But hers is a much longer story.
And I deal here with possibility only:

How sometimes the mind fails to know
what the body fails to do. And sometimes it does know.
Sometimes the mind fails to know what it does,
the soul fails to know what the mind is doing—

like the time she said, especially
delicious meals, always, to my knowledge
and for many years, eaten in the company of Paul,
whom she misses—
and her mouth in sorrow now just forgets to eat.

So five—or was it six?—and three
at Monday’s Care Plan Meeting,
where the Springwood staff and her next of kin,
address her waning effort, her long-held depression.

We hear out their plan—(give it two weeks)—
buy wine and a bird feeder,
notice the commode, newly placed in her room,
hang an analog clock, or try to.  And we,

who live in her dwindling shadow, quarrel,
while she nudges the contents of her
lunch with the tines of her fork. She lies there
day after day, her eyes either foggy
or shut.

But knowing that the past is never “just the past”—
knowing things she does not know—
what I want is a miracle. (Perhaps,
she wants the same.)  I want to scream
like Jesus, no, to Jesus: Take up thy bed, and walk!
and watch her walk.

Too tired?
Why we all are.

I had even asked my friends—
when we left the Ghoeles’ house following the Fifth
Saturday Social of the local model railroad club—
Is it all right to pray for snow?
And they all said, yes!

With the new year, the snow came.

So we re-built four computers
in four acts of restoration
that helped us with the claiming of our peace.

She asked us to go away, visit her later—
just as January settled in—
on that Saturday
before it rained a cold and freezing rain,

the sky as dark and lonely as a prayer
thrown back from heaven.

And then one night, she said,
we’d kidnapped Aimee, even prompting me
to write it down. So I’ll include known details:

When she choked on breakfast sausage,
she got oxygen. The pneumonia had settled in,
clogging her lungs with invisible pus.
And the ligament—exposed and visible—
in the sore on her left leg was slow to heal.
Fact is, it never did.

She used her energy to resist therapy, or
so it seemed. She felt caught in the middle,
didn’t know what to do, said, it seemed
we all wanted different things.

And we did. We’re different people.

Then we said our good-byes in a hospital room,
cried and held each other’s hands. A kind nurse
drew the window shades. She told us to
take our time.

first published in ShoeBox Diaries