My friend, Patrick, sent me poems (What’s He Thinking is thanks to him). He was the only person who did. But he spent these last few weeks of summer slipping away from us, day by day. Friday I sat by the side of his bed, chatting and laughing with his nephew/namesake Patrick. My Patrick smiled and fluttered his hand at us to let us know he heard, but he was too weak to speak.
When the pain grew too great he clasped my hand while his nurse dripped soothing morphine between his lips and down his throat. When I left I kissed his lips, his hands, his forehead.
Monday morning I called to ask if he was entertaining visitors. In my heart, I knew the answer already. Patrick died Sunday night.
This dry, hot summer is slipping away from us. I don’t want it to. I want another, and yet another bike ride, walk in the woods, chocolate dip ice cream cone from Dairy Queen, gin and tonic sipped on a deck alongside the river.
Try as I might to hold on to summer, it slips into autumn. It always has and always will.
Just so, those we wish to hold close slip away from us. As much as we wanted Patrick to eat more, get up more, talk to us more, smile at our conversation more, tell us he loved us more, he was weary and ready to go.
He can’t send me poems anymore. Yet I can share one with those who loved him.
As Imperceptibly As Grief
by Emily Dickinson
As imperceptibly as Grief
The summer lapsed away
Too imperceptible at last
to seem like Perfidy –
A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon –
The Dusk drew earlier in –
The Morning foreign shone –
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone –
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.