A picture of a woman's hand holding a stethoscope

Why I Stay

I’ll stay to hold your hand a minute longer because your sweetheart can’t.
Not because they don’t want to.
They aren’t allowed to.

Closed doors, quiet noise and a small light
to let you know, we are here.
You lie awake all night listening
to the sound of a machine and someone else breathing.
I’ll be near when you are scared,
when you ask why someone is crying, when you cry.

One, two, three,
you’ve stopped counting as people surround the bed opposite yours.
You ask, “What’s wrong?”
“What happened?”

It falls silent after so much noise.
The lights are on over there and after a while they go off.
You wake in the morning to see an empty bed across from yours.
Clean white sheets.
I’ll stay to comfort you.

6:45 a.m.
I’ll brush your hair and help you to your chair.
I’ll make you a cup of tea,
and I’ll sit with you until someone else is there.

You ask me about myself.
You tell me I am lovely,
and you ask if I will be back tonight.
“I will be here,” I reply.

You tell me the day wasn’t good.
I raise your bed so you can see the city lights, and I sit with you.
We point out buildings and count the floors.
You look at me as if you’ve known me forever.

You fall asleep and as I go to leave,
you ask me to stay, just for a minute.
Your eyes tell me you’re in pain.
So I’ll sit and hold your hand.

You’re asleep again.
I’ll make sure you are warm,
leave the small light on
because you don’t like the dark and I close the door.

You aren’t awake in the morning.
You couldn’t be woken up.
We wash your face and brush your hair.

Please know you were not alone.
You are not alone.
We are here with you.

You’ll know you are safe.
You’ll know that my hand held yours last.
This is why I stay.

Image via 3M Littmann

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