Father’s Day

How do her tears reach all the way to my cheeks
when we’re just trying to talk on the phone?
She says she’s afraid that I’m not gonna return
that I’m not really coming back home.
Whatever assurance I want to provide
gets choked back when I look at the odds,
truth and hope both, seem to argue each day
while fate rides the whim of the gods.
The home that we built with some of our friends
echoes with half of us gone;
holding out for the time when I might return
is something we can’t depend on.

Last year, Father’s Day was an unconscious affair;
I was a shadow on most people’s wall.
My meals through a tube through a hole in my gut;
a catheter to answer the call.
This Father’s Day, I got to spend with my wife
and our four legged daughter named Chai,
a truly sweet dog I haven’t seen in two years.
My joy and surprise helped me cry.
She’s a big yellow lab who never grew up
and her ass wags the edge of the earth.
She loves everyone no matter their mien,
and she’s been that way since her birth.

I’m in my wheelchair watching my wife
who weighs in at a hundred plus pounds,
holding the leash, to an eighty pound dog
whose strength is completely unbound.
How she contains the force and the drive
is a feat that leaves me in awe,
tugging the leash Chai half climbs in my lap
pulling my arm with her paw.
My wife’s watching me defending myself
from the love of our dog in my face,
remembering when I could play at the beach
while training to keep her in place.

Her watching, I realize, is noticing how
much I have changed this past year.
The arms that I used to hug all I love
can barely reach past my ears.
To reach out and hold what I hold dear
is a dream and a wish I employ.
I miss my arms. Growing up we’d embrace,
so hugging was part of my joy.
Finally accepting the truth of the obvious loss,
her heart is more heavy than gold.
Driving home with our dog, to nobody home
defies her will to grow old.

She calls me to tell me she’s gotten home safe
then I hear the fear in her voice.
Is our future on phones and visits to here
all that we have left to rejoice?
The children have grown and have kids of their own
so their father’s day is complete.
Their life day to day is full of the gifts
that come when each other’s replete.
For us there’s a void defined by the words
used to name the disease that I’ve got,
since no treatment exists for the name that they use
going home becomes probably not.

Still, I have to give thanks to family and friends
who support both me and my wife.
I have to include all my friends on Face Book
cuz you too, are part of my life.
The eternal moments found in the wee hours
would kill without memories of you;
so I rebuild this world with the love you have shown
while I’m wondering how I’ll get through
long nights and long days with a few staff who care,
while I watch my faculties fail.
And yet miracles happen, I see them each day,
for my own, who knows what that entails.

embi 6/15/14

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