I thought of Mrs. Edwards especially in the light of Jane S's comment that we must rage, rage against the dying of the light, as Dylan Thomas urged his dying father. But eventually there might come a time when the dying person feels he or she has endured enough and prefers an end to the suffering. This was true of my mother after she had lived weeks in agony from a metasticized abdominal cancer. After she had achieved the escape she prayed for fervently, I wrote the following poem, which I chose to read last Friday night at the Cornelia Street Café:
How Sweet The Bye and Bye
Once the pain preyed unrelenting
you could taste how bad
you wanted to go into that good night
you raged against the light
prayed for it to go out
for you no false heroics
just the stoic’s sort.
You could not taste at last
the bile rising to your palate
burned your taste buds out
as your huge tumor crushed gall
bladder and kidney and thrust down
your uterus till you could feel it fall
between your lips like a natural-
ly aborted fetus.
“‘There’s a land that is fairer than day’”
you sang me softly in the breath left you
“That’s where I want to be
where I won’t ever have to do
another goddamn thing I don’t want to . . .
‘I’ll be free in the sweet bye and bye.’”
Then you saw, being blind, the last dim light
your opalescent pupil could permit
and cunningly left behind your agony.