Corner Room in a Pueblo, Colorado Cancer Hospital

Corner Room in a Pueblo, Colorado Hospital

You were right by the nurses station.

I could see them through the window.

They’d look up and give awkward

half-smiles to the “old retired Vietnam vet”

whose service to this country they truly appreciated.

I couldn’t sleep, so I’d often catch myself

staring at whoever was at the station.

If we locked eyes, I’d pretend

I didn’t see and quickly turn to you,

sitting upright in your bed, sipping water

with a straw. Styrofoam cup slightly shaking.

My knees would hit the wooden arms

of the cheap hospital chair where I had learned

to contort my body for maximum sleep.

But no sleep. None at all.

For three nights straight because I couldn’t leave your side.

Hand on yours.

Eyes locked.


Except for the machines breathing for you.

Or the crunching of ice as I fed you with a plastic spoon

because that’s all your body could consume.

Dad, I wish my hand could transfer the cancer

out of you and into me.

And erase the years we were strangers.

And create more time together.

More time to heal.

That morning the nurses kept their heads

down. I didn’t blink as I watched you

take your last breath.

Hand still on yours. Slightly shaking.

After, I slowly walked down the hospital hallway.

This was the first I had been back to Colorado since

my birth over 30 years ago.

This time, the nurses smiled as they held back tears.

I half-smiled and appreciated them.

I looked at the corner room. Now empty.

Except for the machines breathing.

And the memories of the heartbroken.

I wrote this after watching my father pass away from stage 4 lung cancer. We had reconciled our broken relationship just a few years earlier, and in 2015, I had his first and only grandchild. He called me in July 2016 and said he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Within four weeks, I was in a hospital saying goodbye.

This post was written and submitted by Trish Broome. The article reflects the views of Broome and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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