Worst Case Scenario

The day of his mother’s surgery,
I call my partner to ask how it went.

He tells me softly, It was worst case scenario,
and I prepare myself for the condolences.

I imagine the next week,
the funeral preparation,

what dress will they put her in?
His sisters and grammie sobbing in his arms.

I imagine his father shaking hands with people I don’t know,
all of us dressed in black.

They had to break her leg, he says.
It will be a long recovery.

I exhale. So she’s alive then.
Yes. The image of the funeral bursts away.

The morning of our boy’s surgery,
I don’t get up to see him off.

My partner will go to work later,
I will pick him up after he’s awake.

When the doctor calls,
she says she won’t sugar coat it.

Says purple tongue and cardiac arrest,
says they tried for as long as they could.

We spend the day robotic – collecting the body,
allowing those who loved him a small wake,

where he doesn’t. And as the sun sets,
we bury him beside his brother.



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.

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