My father's birthday is on the 26th, and the day always reprises memories of both his life and death, 13 March 2009. I flew home to make it back for his final hours--his last 26, in fact, and I'm so glad I did. He was receiving hospice treatment at home, with two medications, one essentially morphine, to be given to him on a 3-hour and a 4-hour rotation, and while he was unconscious much of the time, we had a few exchanges that assured me that he knew I was there.
Today's poem addresses the time his stay in hospital for a kidney biopsy went horribly wrong, with a bedsore leading to an abscess on his spine and then complete paralysis before it was caught. He was in an induced coma for some weeks, and I felt guilty about being in England. My mother kept telling me to wait, though, as she feared I'd come home, visit, and return, only to have to come back some short time later for a funeral. As it was, my father lived two more (terrible) years.
The poem originally appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and subsequently online in Amaryllis. You can read it here.