You were happy when I climbed on your lap.
All soft sounds and soft hands and a cheerful, bubbly voice
Nudging my toddling figure away from the patio’s edge.
The sweet scent of your flowery perfume
Made me giggle with happiness
And shake, in anticipation of fresh baked treats and rice patties.
You were cookies to me.
Cookies, and grammy walks, and sledding down that huge hill
And hugs, and hot chocolate and love.
I remember the taste
Of cinnamon graham crackers
Of midnight ice cream.
Of warm cookies filled with chocolate chips.
Then, one day, we heard you on the telephone.
The sharp trill pierced the air.
Your voice was weak, your spirit dampened.
We hurriedly packed our bags, tears still drying on our cheeks,
For the 14 hour drive to Salt Lake City.
We finally arrived,
Exhausted, at the house,
Crunching across the gravel drive.
The oxygen machine sounded much louder
Mama’s friend emerged, carrying a tray with that odd drink,
ZippFizz, you loved until your final breath.
The bags under her eyes had been deepened
Extremely, by the hours she spent watching over you.
So, it was my turn.
You had promised to be my guardian angel
When you left this Earth,
And so I promised to be yours
While you still walked it.
Each night I stayed up, waiting for your coughing fits,
Jumping up to take care of you in my half-asleep state.
I learned how to work the loud oxygen machine,
Learned how to wash you without hurting your skin,
Learned to detach myself from panic
When it seemed you would never breathe again.
I did all of this because I love you.
The desire to help, to understand how,
Made medicine all the more appealing to me.
For you were happy when I could help,
And that made me happy.
My uncle and I talked in the long hours of the night
United in exhaustion.
In impending grief.
He told me about medicine, the doctor of the family.
He told me you were difficult, but that he was glad to help.
He felt the same way I did.
So we talked.
And you died, four days later.
And I was broken
But satisfied, somehow, that I made you so content
Before you left, before I saw your eyes glaze over.
I knew what I wanted my life to be,
And this you helped me find.
This passion of medicine, of healing and love,
A spark you struck inside me.
I spotted three monarchs on the way home,
Fluttering like your butterfly necklace,
Hidden beneath my shirt.