Aunt Ra

Bob’s Aunts lived in New York City. The last time I saw Aunt Ra alive she was in the hospital suffering from cancer. I wrote this as we were leaving New York to return home to Cincinnati.

Profound Sense © 2000 Molly Lin Dutina

How can I leave you here in your suffering?
Who will escort you when employees
are careless about their duties and
don’t even want to be at work today?
Will someone wrap you in tenderness
when the struggle seems overwhelming?
Can an advocate arise in the
technical discussion of your treatment
with you too weak to speak
transported in agony
beyond concern for choices
all effort towards enduring
present life demands?

As I hold your hand and
smooth your temple in the
radiology holding area
I am reminded that as I
comfort you, I comfort Jesus.
Your gaunt features remind me of
the asceticism of St. Francis.
One niece says you resemble
a female Buddhist monk.

As I turn from you
not wanting to burden you
with my weeping
I marvel at the ability
I am given to walk.
Sobs consume me because
I cannot help you more.
How can I get in a car
put hundreds of miles between us
and be unaffected by your struggle?
I cannot.
So I am reduced to a 
profound sense of helplessness.

Others’ eyes avert from my
weeping countenance.
I cannot stop the tears
and I do not try.
The ingratitude of those not helpless
assaults my brain and senses.
“Christ above you, Christ within you,
Christ beneath you.
Christ on your right, Christ on your left
Christ in every eye that sees you
Christ in every voice that speaks to you.”

I marvel
even as I weep
that I can peel and eat
an orange
blow my nose
drink a Coke
think of you
-all virtually unaided-
except for the life force
that keeps me from
disease, suffering, death.
I use every tissue in my possession.
I mop my face with napkins.
Swollen eyes, red, bulbous nose
so what?

In the hospital corridors they stare.
The brisk breeze at the bus stop
startles me – I am alive.
On the bus they wonder
why I cry and sniff
St. Patrick’s Hymn rolls through my soul
“Christ with you, Christ before you,
Christ behind you.
I arise today through a mighty strength
The invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the Threeness
Through confession of the oneness
Towards the Creator.”
And I commend you into those
Holy Hands and keeping.

Be certain to listen to at least the second minute of the music!

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