This time of year brings around so many vivid memories, this being one.
On March 9, 2009, a long agonizing night began for me and Rick Sikes. He had been in and out of the hospital since January 2009 and we were back again for more IV antibiotics to try and fight the infection slowly eating away the flesh on his right leg. With daily hyperbaric treatments on top of the strongest blend of antibiotics available and morphine for pain, recovery remained elusive.
And then the unthinkable happened. I knew something wasn’t right as Rick struggled to breathe and his fever rose. But, the nurses assured me that he was not in distress.
When the Pulmonary Therapist made his daily rounds the next morning, he immediately recognized the signs and went into action. Rick had developed pneumonia. Within less than an hour, a ventilator was in place, all pain meds stopped and the vigil continued.
When the wound care team came to change the dressing on his leg, my heart broke at the tormented cries that escaped from his throat. It took every ounce of strength I had to stay calm and try to comfort him.
I thought we’d reached the end. And, during the wee hours of the morning, after another sleepless night, I wrote this poem, never imagining I would have a chance to read it to him.
There is no shame in surrender when it is time
Like General Lee, you’ve known when to lay low and when to climb
I’ve watched you suffer for so many years
Your life seemed destined to one of pain and of tears
Yet you fought on – the valiant soldier in fierce battle
You boldly sang your song – rode tall in the saddle
You’ve now come down to the last battle call
You’ll hang up your sword, tired and weary you will fall
But know that you’ve left many good marks behind
While you learned how to love and how to be kind
Taught lessons to all who shared your many paths
That will long be remembered after you’ve passed
There is no shame in surrender when it is time…
I did get to read it to him several days later, as he survived pneumonia. We both cried. Then on May 1st, he hung up his sword and left this earth.
April is National Poetry Month. In celebration, I have discounted the eBook version of Discovery – Poetry and Art by Rick and Jan Sikes.
I’d be honored if you’d pick up a copy, read and review it!!
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