Awaiting my daughter’s fate

Five years ago, my daughter was rushed to emergency surgery.  I was also in college at the time and was working on a poem for my creative non-fiction class. I wrote this poem while waiting to learn my daughter's fate. I am not the same person I was five years ago, but I wanted to share another part of my writing.  Poetry is not my forte, but this poem did represent what being a single mother feels like during a crisis; and sharing my poem helps me knock down the walls that still surround me.
Five years ago, my daughter was rushed to emergency surgery. I was also in college at the time and was working on a poem for my creative non-fiction class. I wrote this poem while waiting to learn my daughter’s fate. I am not the same person I was five years ago, but I wanted to share another part of my writing. Poetry is not my forte, but this poem did represent what being a single mother feels like during a crisis; and sharing my poem helps me knock down the walls that still surround me.

The Inferno Within

I stared into the empty waiting room,

Awaiting my daughter’s fate.

Two hours went by

Since they rushed her to the operating room,

The sound of the ticking clock

Pounded in my anxious head.

My young son was the only one around,

Seated innocently by my side,

Reading a book with his headphones on.

I did not dare burden him with my despair.

I sat alone with hope in my eyes and dread in my heart.

Years before when I dreamt of motherhood,

I never envisioned the loneliness and isolation I live now.

I imagined one parent to bandage our children’s “owies”

And a second to kiss them;

One to listen to their prayers

And another to turn off their light;

One to walk them down the aisle

While the other tossed out the rice.

Hand in hand, we would guide them through their life,

Proudly letting go as they headed toward their dreams.

Never did I conceive an empty house,

An aching heart, and three broken children.

What kind of man abandons his family?

I cook meals, help with homework,

Run them to appointments, wash their clothes,

Hold them tightly while they are sick,

And desperately struggle to make ends meet.

What dream of his could possibly replace

The needs and hearts of his own helpless children?

Don’t get me wrong,

There’s no other place I would rather be,

But it is nights like this that stir up my contempt and anguish.

I cannot help but believe my children deserve more.

The guilt sets in when I see my tired, weary son

Sleeping in the university library,

While he waits for me to complete my studies;

Or when he wants to watch a movie or play a game,

But my eyes, like a steel trap door, struggle to stay open.

I do my best to move on and leave the pain behind.

But a crisis or a trigger from the past will bring it all soaring back.

It’s the angst of knowing my children are scared and are hurting,

While knowing their father is too selfish to discern.

Every day as I grow strong, I hold their hands in mine,

And I realize it is all worth it, as I truly love them so.

I could never fathom leaving them behind;

Yet, my repulsion toward his apathy is profound.

And just like my daughter’s cyst,

I fear I, too, may begin to rupture.

I hold on tight and fight back the tears.

If I let go, I am afraid of what happens next.

But I must let go of these chains that bind me

To a coward and a louse.

The surgeon finally appears before me.

Good news! She is safe and sound ….. Relief!!!

As I walk into hold her hand and kiss her softly on the cheek,

I cannot help but see the other patients in recovery

With their friend and family gathered round;

And in my heart I am joyful and reassured,

But still somewhere deep inside me,

The toxic cinders from the past seem to smolder on,

Waiting for time to eradicate any embers left behind,

Opening the chimney for fresh air and healing to wander in.

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