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To My Husband who Made his Hospice Doctor Laugh

Wes Patterson (1938-2010)

I remember,
two handsome men,
both — over six feet tall.
One was you, Honey.
the other — your Hospice doctor.

The doctor came to our Miami condo
every week,
to check on you,
and all you did — you two — was laugh.

And, I remember,
the golden rays of sun
or was that your Aura?
There was so much light
in our living room
where your bed was!

We met through a PenPal magazine,
eighteen years before.
And at that time,
I lived in rainy Riga, Latvia.
You — in Miami.

I still have all of our letters.
Handwritten, lined paper.
Dark blue ink.

It was your second —
in which you said that
we were a great match and
we should get married

My friend Natasha said he’s a nutcase.
I’m a psychologist.
Johns Hopkins Grad
, you said,
I can spot a match.

We met and married.
And from all the memories,
I cherish this one —
how you made your Hospice doctor laugh.

You — already bedridden,
stretched out on your bed,
in light blue boxers,
naked from the waist up, no shirt.
The touch of fabric was too painful.

The pain — unbearable —
the leading symptom of RSD
(Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy),
so much pain that some patients,
unable to cope, resorted to suicide,
and you laughed.

The doctor — no older than 45.
Broad shoulders.
A stethoscope around his neck.
He sat in our grey chair
and laughed.

You had ruffled pages
of the Miami Herald
strewn all over your bed
and dozens of opened books.

Your plastic urinal —
on the bedside table.
Opioid pills
in orange containers.

The stupid illness ate into
your nerves and bones.
And, only your blue eyes —
they were spared,
and your mind
and memory.

And, I could see —
the two of you enjoyed
each other’s company so much,
as if there was
nothing more important to do.
And there wasn’t.

Only, when I took the doctor down
in the elevator —
the laughter stopped.
Your husband is amazing,
he’d say with sadness.
Yes, I know, I’d say.

Those were your final days.
You knew it. He knew it.
We all knew.

Honey, you’ve been gone
now over a decade.
No, I didn’t remarry.

As you predicted,
it’s hard to match me.
Too independent.
Too irreverent.
All that you loved.

Do you miss me, Honey?
I miss you.
I miss your laughter.
I miss your golden light.

Irina Patterson is an writer, poet and performer. She started as an Emergency Doctor in her native Russia.

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