Palo Alto, California, United States
|The Garden of Death. Hugo Simberg. 1896. Ateneum Museum. Source|
When several years ago,
a virus, continents away,
barred grieving families from
holding their loved ones,
I thought how lonely it must be,
to breathe a last breath,
surrounded by masked strangers.
I greet you this morning,
pressing your weeping legs,
listening to your drowning lungs,
and frowning at the red and green numbers
that flit on the screen,
the machine tirelessly pleading
that a blood pressure should not be so low.
Your daughters are sobbing on FaceTime,
two thousand miles away.
In a different time,
I would have held their hand
as they held yours.
The machine’s pleading draws to a crescendo,
as the inaudible rumble fills my heart
for you, my fallen comrade.
NIVETHA SUBRAMANIAN, MD, is currently a first-year internal medicine resident at Stanford. She has enjoyed exploring the medical humanities since her undergraduate years. She is a firm believer that art, in all its unique forms, offers a chance for connection, healing, and growth.