Letting go

His bedside vigil wore on over days,
then weeks, of darkened skies until a ray
of setting sun arrived and glinted off
the metal pole that held the morphine drip.
The light awakened him and drew his eyes
again toward his father’s ashen face.
The cancer stole the vigor first, the color next,
and then the life: a brutal crime, he thought,
committed fast or slow or when it struck.

The nurse came in to check the feeding tubes
and vital signs. She wrote a note then closed
the chart and said. “He’s strong. He’s fighting still.”

He watched her leave the room, then shook his head.
“She doesn’t know the half of it, eh Dad?”
He reached to grasp his father’s hand and held.
“She cannot know how many lives relied
on you—your strength, your heart, your mind, your grace.”

The sun was all but gone, and shadows crept
across the bed. “I always knew you loved
me, just like you knew I loved you. But still
I want to say—I need to say—this: Thank
you.” Although tears began to streak his face,
his voice remained a steady baritone.
“It’s OK. If you need to go. I’ll miss
you every day. You hate all this, I know.
If you can hear me, you can let it go.”

His father’s hand closed hard around his own,
and long they sat, the three of them: the son,
the father, and a cool and fading light.