Jason Gabari

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70 years of love

I have watched many a patient die
Some peacefully letting go
Of their pain
With the help of family and morphine
Some digging in and fighting to the end
With CPR and codes
Chest cracking and 360 joules of
Electricity trying to shock
The heart back to a regular rhythm

84 years only in a step down unit
For months
He was a warrior and defeated prostate cancer
Only to be mortally wounded by cancer of the lungs
Every day the struggle to breath becomes more real
As oxygen levels drop lower and lower and
The heat beats faster and faster
Trying to compensate for the lack of oxygen in his blood

He is transferred to me in the ICU
He is dying
Nothing I can do will change that outcome
War or Peace
Death will Win
I call the doctor
Who insists on talking to the family
Before proceeding to intubate and
Prepare for a full cardiac code
Wife and daughter talk with the doc
The old man continues to breath rapidly and irregularly
Daughter tries to convince mom to let go
“He’s lived a good life”
“But I can’t do it.”
“I can’t let him die.”
“I love you!”
“We have been together for 70 years.”

Frantic and confused and crying
How does one say goodbye to a life partner?
“What should I do?”
“What should I do?”
The breathing slows
It becomes more regular
As the old man gets ready to speak
And shouts out his last words
“Shut up.. Shut up Already.”

Four minutes later he was comfortably
On a morphine drip and
Passed within the hour
That’s how you say goodbye to
A life partner of 70 years

Sunday in the OR

After 12 hours
Of operating
On hips and ankles
I feel like Ulysses
Making the journey home

Only there is no Ithaca
To go back to
My Penelope
Ran off with
My son’s music instructor
There are no Sirens
To tempt me

Just my mother
Sitting on the couch
Watching TV shows
Where people are hunting
For the homes of their dreams.


Jason Gabari is an OR nurse in the Hudson Valley.  He is currently going through a divorce and writes to keep himself sane.