Midwife to the Dying–dVerse Poetics

Photo: lifehopeandtruth.com

Photo: lifehopeandtruth.com


Midwife to the Dying

“Watch with me, please stay.”

Her raspy whisper rouses me from an impending 3 AM stupor. I take her outstretched hand, cold and gnarly. The veins read like a roadmap, the radial pulse thunking in violent resistance to death.

“I’m here.” I squeeze her hand a bit tighter, dampen a small sponge “lollipop” and moisten her cracked lips and tongue. The hissing of oxygen, a gurgling humidifier and her labored breathing play the dirge of dying.

A glow, cast by a small night light, throws the shadow of her struggling profile on the blank wall. “I’m right here,” I say again, as I witness for the umpteenth time the drama of letting go, wondering the while how many others are enacting this final scene of their lives at this moment. Alone.

Watching the dying,
sacred moment of birthing
to another life.

I ask myself once more: “Will someone watch with me?”

Today, at dVerse Poetics, we are honored to welcome our guest host, Lynn, who bids us to consider the title of Harper Lee’s new title, “Go Set a Watchman,” a title based on a verse from Isaiah. I went with a memoir-like haibun.


38 thoughts on “Midwife to the Dying–dVerse Poetics

  1. 5h2o says:

    Very beautiful. And so heartfelt.


  2. sreejaharikrishnan says:

    Oh yes …..that’s really a strange feeling something mixed with awe and prayers….I too have watched…! Nicely put in words….!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s so poignantly true – dying to go to another birth. They are calling Dr.Wayne Dyer’s death day Continuation Day. It makes perfect sense.


  4. You have taken the sad reality of leaving this world and paid such tribute to it here with love and dignity. I do believe that it is an honor to be present when someone passes, just as it is at birth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kaykuala h says:

    One still sees it as a continuing closeness to the person.There is still communication, with tears and even with words. Emotions are more positive and still intact.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is beautiful and touched me deeply as it reminded me of my sister Peggy’s final hours and moments. I especially liked the detail you used — the small sponge lollipop — I remember that, too. Excellent haibun. Peace, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  7. i suppose if more can hold the hand of dying
    so many more will appreciate life..
    perhaps what is hidden from
    so many.. should
    be held in
    hands of
    both Love
    and appreciation
    of Life as is NOW..
    and no a TV show
    is not the same
    as the hand of
    life that lends
    a hand of
    in Life..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. respect, compassion, dignity – you have brought them all to so many people. You are indeed yourself a blessing

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It must be such a difference to die alone.. A blessing to feel a gentle touch or that make a small difference in taking those last few steps.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. claudia says:

    oh heck – that brought tears to my eyes – i guess that even when we know where we’re going it is tough to let go anyway. good when there’s someone sitting with us

    Liked by 1 person

  11. kanzensakura says:

    Indeed, when my friend recently died, as she was single and no family about, I feared she would die alone. What a blessing to learn a long time friend kept watch with her as her soul left her poor body. It is an honor and a blessing to do this sacred watch. As an AIDS volunteer, I was privileged to be at these side of those who lay alone and forgotten and to hold their hand and speak to them. I know those you kept watch with felt your blessed presence. It is almost miraculous to watch the transition, to speak to them after the last breath. Beautiful haibun

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back in the early days of AIDS I had the honor of helping to set up and manage one of the first units for them in San Francisco. Very hard to see so much talent and youth go through that with so few treatment options. Bless you for helping.


      • kanzensakura says:

        It was a horror. I lost mny people I loved. I was on the east coast side of the plague. I watched Normal Heart some time ago….iit was spot on and no one seemed to care. And the denial….my aunt set up the care unit in Nashville. She was trained in England for hospice for the first units over here. I administered the Ryan White program in this state for several years. It felt good to do something to help.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Toni, what a special gift to be involved with the Ryan White Foundation. I don’t know if I could stand working with those little ones–it would tear me apart. And England–the birthplace of hospice in a sense. Wow!


  12. Mary says:

    I am sure that you, Victoria, were a blessing as you ‘watched’ with those who were dying. You definitely have had a special call in life, there is no doubt. We can all only hope that when it is our time we will have a special ‘watcher’ with us too.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ayala says:

    The hardest thing I’ve had to do was sit in hospice with my mom. When she took her last breath my heart broke. The people that work at hospice are angels.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s not just anyone who can sit with grace as someone makes the often clunky transition into whatever awaits us after this life. You describe the scene so well, I feel as if I am there, not knowing what to do, but knowing I must stay to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. lynn__ says:

    What a special ministry it is to watch with the dying…we watched with my husband’s mother also and it was a blessing…for all the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Grace says:

    I hope so as it would be terribly lonely ~ There is something sacredly mysterious about dying & crossing over to be “reborn” to another life ~

    A lovely haibun Victoria ~

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    This is so sad.. indeed it is difficult being the watchman at time of a beloved’s death. My heart goes out to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of the deaths I attended were a part of my life as a nurse–I worked with death and dying for the most part and it was our practice to watch with the dying 24/7. It is always sad to face death, yes, but there are many blessing to being there at that most sacred time of life.


  18. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Very powerful compassionate haibun. There is a theory that the soul remains in the room for a short time. Some people continue to talk to the departed. I have to believe that death is merely a doorway, a transference of energy, only the death/demise of the husk we once inhabited.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. x says:

    One of the hardest moments of my life was playing watchman at the death of my mother in law . I felt so helpless. Often though I think it is the not being alone in that last moment and helping them face it that can be a blessing we can give them.

    Liked by 1 person

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