El malei rachamim
O G-d, full of compassion.
Words gush, unstoppable
Assaulting my ears, heart and being
For now, brief sliver of time with you.
We sat like two rocks in the coffeehouse,
Your Jess, precious daughter and I
Hearing, not listening nor believing-
‘I have a little bleeding, and, a mass’,
(My younger cousin, the gynecologist)
The shoemaker and her child.
‘How much? How long?’ we intone-
Whispers, barely audible.
Who dwells on high,
Our collective sigh
Ascending to the heavens.
‘For a while; the estrogen didn’t really help either!’
The writing was on the wall.
The Diagnosis-different, personal and threatening from this end-
Decades of empathic conversations mocked in moments.
‘I am afraid, angry-not fair!’ (got that right),
‘I will be with you’ (my first responder to her heart).
Our days are long, months short and years too few
Making memories, appointments and yes, lots of chemo.
Loving apologies, amends, fences to mend-
Savoring, tasting moments before the sand runs out.
V’yitz-ror, bitz-ror hachayim-
Bind her soul together with the living.
Sweet, soulful melodies in your ear, final precious hours,
Family, friends’ and patients’ prayers ascend with your light.
Loved in life, loved forever,
Shelter her under the cover of your wings.
by Jill Maura Rabin, M.D.
Long Island Branch, NY
Source: El Maleh Rachamim – Prayer for the Soul of the Departed – Death & Mourning
Jeanne Rabin Kanaan, M.D., of blessed memory, was a compassionate, kind, skilled and empathic physician and urogynecologist. She was also my younger cousin and best friend.
She was taken from us too soon and our grief is beyond measure or words. Our family, friends and her many patients continue to use her shining example and lessons of a life well-lived to improve the lives of others.
Jeanne loved medicine and treated her patients as precious beings who needed and benefitted from her unique brand of healing. She taught and gave me far more than I could ever repay.
It is my hope that this small poem will serve as a reminder of the bond I shared with her, professionally and personally. May her memory be for a blessing.
Note from the editor:
You may have noticed that there was no poetry or art posted last week. Apologies–I was on a flight from Sydney to Dallas and then on the road home. One of the side effects of severe jet lag is that I get to listen to the radio at odd hours, and early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night, depending on time zone) I listened to an inteview Texas artist, Dario Robleto (not an NLAPW member). To link to the program, On Being, click here. There is also an interview with Maya Angelou (an NLAPW member) on an earlier episode. As the On Being website puts it, Robleto’s work “joins words and objects in a way that distills meaning at once social, poetic, and scientific.” His sculpture includes everyday objects, poetry, and uses visual and verbal tools to convey meaning. I’m headed to the Menil Collection to see his latest exhibit, The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed, as soon as I can.
The program reminded me of how many of NLAPW’s members produce work that transcends genres. And how our unique communion with sister artists in all disciplines can inform our own work. Visual artists share in the joy of our poetry; writers are inspired by the Art of the Week; we listen to music and revel in our composers’ success. The more exposure we have to creativity, the more our own creativity is enhanced. It’s why branches flourish, and why I do this blog. So, thank you, NLAPW members, and the greater audience, for all the feedback, comments, and encouragement.
And please let me know what you think of posting visual art and poetry together. What are your thoughts on it?
NLAPW website content editor
Delta Branch, MS