Where Are The Words?
Author: Shiloh


The nicest guy in the world is dying.
Possibly less than eight weeks left, we're told.
He's on a respirator because he can't breathe on his own,
but after a week of it, they'll take him off it
to see if he can breathe without a machine.
If not, then other decisions will have to be faced.
Either way, he says he wants to go back home.
I don't think I would want to die in a hospital, either.

It must be hell, knowing what you're facing,
knowing how little time is left,
knowing how much you still want to do,
and knowing you will never do it...
knowing that you are just... going to... cease.

You will be no more.
You will stop.
The world will still go on,
life as you used to know it
will still go on,
but you will not be aware of it any more...
you will simply not be.

You will be remembered, however,
my friend -
you will always be remembered.
That isn't a lot of consolation,
I know,
but it is all I can offer that has any value.

My cat stops in front of me,
blocking the keyboard,
looking into my face as I look into her eyes.
"Where are the words?" I ask her, softly,
"Do you have the words?"
She only continues to the back of my chair,
to keep me company as I try to find the words.

I used to be pretty good with words,
and now I am unable to - what!?
To say something that I think I should say,
to write about something that I think I should feel,
to convey, somehow, the wretched way
my friend's impending death is tearing up my mind,
and all I can do is sit here
and wait for another telephone call...

There should be hundreds, no! thousands of words
readily available, springing out to me,
pouring from my fingertips to the keyboard,
and then to the page.
All twenty-six letters in the alphabet in so many combinations
should be there for me to pick from,
so that I may say something of value,
to be remembered,
for the man I call my brother, my friend...

I wonder if I am just too close, this time?
He is a bit older than me,
and I have known him half his lifetime,
half my lifetime, as well,
and he has always been there; a friend,
confidant, confessor, sounding board...
the kind of brother I never had,
and certainly the kind of friend I could never find again.
Nor would I want to.
You can't replace some things with another,
and you can't replace a special person with another, either.

All I know is that he is going, and I will be less when that happens.
I imagine that he is aware of all of this,
and I imagine he is angry,
at life, at circumstances, even at himself,
and I imagine that he has so much he wants to say and do,
but he is unable to, now...
all he is able to do is - die.
Just close his eyes one last time,
and forever leave a hole in the lives of so many who love him.

How do I remember him, when he is gone?
His eyes, surely. And that wry grin of his.
The way he would try to mask his face
when he was holding a full house.
The faraway look in his eyes when he talked about cars he once had.
His cranky and opinionated attitude,
like a hurt bear, but lovable, like Gentle Ben.
The beauty of the person inside that gruff exterior...

He was born in 1946,
and in the years and months and weeks and days since then,
he has done a lot of things.
He has experienced a lot of things.
He has seen a lot of things.
He has memories and thoughts and dreams
that will accompany him now as he leaves us,
and I wish that I would have had the time
to have heard more of some of those things he had discovered,
to have had a few more cups of coffee with him,
to have listened and questioned more...

Where are the words?


Comments on this poem/writing:

Colin ( -- Sunday, February 21 2010, 02:11 pm

My Dad....

My Dad died from a terminal cancer back in 1992.
I also said - where are the words?

.....but your words are a sincere and moving tribute ....and you are a fine fine writer!
Luke Mudge ( -- Sunday, February 21 2010, 11:54 pm

Well. . .

There arent a lot of words, thats why you cant find him, right now you are thinking of him, and his family and who's going to be left, and so many questions, and back to him, and worrying and anxious, wishing something could reverse years of what caused this. But eventually, when all of that confusion is gone, could be days, or years, you'll find the words, and when you put those words down, and bring them to life, it'll be for him, and you'll feel better. People like to say time heals all wounds, I like to say words help heal them too
V1NC3 ( -- Thursday, February 25 2010, 01:36 am


words don't mean a thing unless they mean what you really feel, so just by saying that you can't find the words, you've said more than most would even care to try to say. i love your writing, it makes me think.
Aussie Cins ( -- Wednesday, March 3 2010, 02:18 pm


sometimes we dont need to find the words and say them aloud because the ones we are close to already know whats in our hearts
shiloh ( -- Thursday, March 4 2010, 12:32 am

yes, but...

but writing, sometimes, is the only way i have of dealing with things. it is an escape, a safety net, a fortress, a sanctuary, a reason... in words i am able to deal with it a bit better than if i had no other outlet.

and thank you, everyone, for your thoughts - i appreciate them.
Mike Rudolph ( -- Sunday, May 23 2010, 09:35 pm


The words may not have been there. But the memorys will always be there. And thats worth more then any words could ever say :)
shiloh ( -- Monday, May 24 2010, 12:14 am


thank you.
The Pyrate Lady ( -- Sunday, October 2 2011, 04:20 am

I feel a lot like that...with my dad...

My dad is dying from cancer...started as prostate cancer...but he chose to try natural remedies only..didnt even let them cut it the cancer is in his bones...and seeing him like that was aweful...and knowing any day could be his so damn hard. This made me have a way with words for sure...
Name:                                           Remember Me

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