Posted by: Kathy | December 10, 2015

No More Time

This poem was written as the assignment for day 4 of Writing 101: Poetry, entitled Seconds. One line of the assignment deeply resonated with me: “a split second can change our lives in ways we can never imagine.” It wasn’t a split second but a night that changed my life. Filled with many seconds, more than I could handle at the time. I tried my best in an impossible situation.

I said I wanted to be there
when you took your last breath,
but my fear of your death,
so much deeper than your own.

Fear that stopped me cold,
buckled my knees to prayer.
I wasn’t ready to lose what we shared.
I needed you.

We were together
on what became your final night.
A privilege, yes, but I was filled with fright,
as the seconds ticked down on your life.

Emotions so raw, on a razor’s edge.
Unanswered questions toyed with my mind,
asking now an impossibility, there was no more time.
Death was coming for you.

I listened for the sound of your shallow, ragged breaths,
which meant you were still alive.
My unspoken fear was that you would die
when I was alone with you.

I wondered at this point what you knew.
Did you understand the words I said?
Letting go of life shortly after I left,
you always knew better than me.

Your constant presence in my life
instantly erased like chalk from a slate,
an aching empty feeling quickly taking its place.
A heart space that remains unfilled, open for you.

Cancer took you from me, my one and only mom.
My spiral into grief had only begun.
Some might have said that death had won.
But for you death brought a new existence of pain-free peace.

Those final seconds of your life,
hat last painful night,
emotion-filled memories I cannot wipe
from the deepest corners of my mind.




  1. When my mom drew her last breath, I was there and you write of the pain and knowing so well. Brought tears! Very good!

    • Thank you. I think my mom knew I couldn’t handle being there when she drew her last breath, which is why she held on for 2 more hours after I left their house. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Wow!  Powerful!  Always love your writing my friend! Love ya, Claudia

    • Thank you my friend. Love u too. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I lost my mom to cancer, too, and I was there for her last breath – heart-breaking and releasing.

    I especially resonated with this:
    “Your constant presence in my life
    instantly erased like chalk from a slate,
    an aching empty feeling quickly taking its place”

    • So sorry for your loss. It’s hard, isn’t it. One minute she was here, the next she was gone. I felt so empty. I wish you peace.

  4. “Fear that stopped me cold,
    buckled my knees to prayer.” — those line are gripping. Love the image of a chalk board wiped clean and how you reference it very gently in the end. This is a heart-rending portrait of your mother’s final moments and an intimate glimpse into how you felt being present for it. Hugs!

    • Thank you is all I can say right now. Hugs

  5. Very tragic. It’s hard when someone so important to you is taken away, I don’t know how I’ll get over it if it ever happens to me hopefully not 😦

    • I don’t think you ever get over it, but you do heal and keep moving forward. Thanks for commenting.

      • Sorry for your lost.

        • Thank you.

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