Saturday, July 31, 2010

Watching the Lights Go Out~2010 Dr. Charles Poetry Contest Entry

Recently, Dr. Charles announced the first annual "2010 Charles Prize for Poetry". He states,

"Bold and pretentious name aside, the award will be given to the writer who submits for consideration the most outstanding poem within the context of health, science, or medicine.
Open to everyone (patients, doctors, science people, nurses, students, etc.). 1 or 2 entries per person. Poems should be related to experiencing, practicing, or reflecting upon a medical, scientific, or health-related matter."

The winner will recieve $500 and a cherry tomato from his garden. There are three judges and the contest is open through 8/31/10.

Here's my entry~

Watching the Lights Go Out

Watching the lights go out,
is a scary thing
or at least that’s what it seems like.

I never imagined when my Dear Son was born,
that the first ten years would be spent
trying to move forward
forever chasing the milestones
only to spend the next ten years
going back
with the lights closing in on each behavior
like a bad game of “Deal or No Deal”
where instead of dollars,
his behaviors are listed on the game board
with the lights going out as each behavior
goes away forever.

Sometimes, you don’t realize the behavior is a gift,
when it’s something small like moving your foot
and then suddenly, the light begins to flicker
and it goes out, never to turn on again.

Sometimes, though, you think it’s out and then
suddenly it flickers again…
You get excited thinking it’s back
only to find out it was a fluke
as you watch another light go out forever.

As the days go by,
you realize that there aren’t many lights left.
You wonder when they’ll all go out.
Heck, some nights, I wake up in a sweat
worried they’ll all go out at once
then I’ll be left with nothing.

Other days, I am lulled to sleep by thoughts of days gone by,
when he was full of life and his smile was a mile wide,
of happy times when he walked on his knees over to the kitchen counter
to let me know he was hungry,
and looked up at me with that big grin,
with eyes that would melt a Mother’s heart.
Oh, how I miss those days.

But now, I wake up in the middle of the night
to sounds of him choking on his own saliva.
He can’t seem to cough or swallow anymore
and the wretching sounds of his battered lungs trying to gasp for breath
take over the room...
I call out to him to cough as if doing so will help him.
In desperation, I jump up and suction him
hoping to keep the light on
one more night.

Note: Dear Son is eighteen years old and suffers from seizures, dystonia and severe mental retardation as a result of a random mutation of the ARX gene; he also suffers from a progressive neurological disorder.

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