The morning you die,
it’s hard to wake up.
The sky is overcast and we
pile into the car.
They’d said we wouldn’t be able to say goodbye,
that we would leave you in a parking lot and go home.
Instead, we are offered a sacrifice,
a garage in exchange for your last breath,
and we take it.
We hold you,
hands smoothing out soft skin
as your eyes stop moving,
as your exhale passes through our hands.
The doctor tells us you’re already gone,
before we even know it’s time.
You went so fast,
no fight left, ready to rest.
She tells us to take our time,
tells us we did our best,
tells us it’s okay to say goodbye.
You ride in my lap on the way home,
limp, heavy, body twitching as it lets go.
And after we bury you,
Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. She is the author of the chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week. Their work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.