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Forgive me for not letting you go


Unhappy sunrise. At first light

darkness covered my soul and sight.

Your sleep, my relief, came to an end.

In your oppressive pain, your lungs inflamed.

In bed you lay wearing your eyeglass frames,

You gasped for air, yet your smile remained.

A comforting flame

that froze to the touch of your icy hands.

I kept you warm, I thought, with my blanket and embrace.

But time, it seemed, kept another pace.


I left for no more than a moment,

To wipe my tears,

To return in strength,

To fill your life with mine,

To overcome our fears, I believed, at length.

But your tired heart could no longer wait

And in that very moment you met your fate.

Those of us remaining, we chose to fight

a battle that was not yours.

Pushing on your blazing chest,

Blowing in your tired lungs,

Pumping on your failing heart,

And for a short while

Your life swayed on a fragile thread

held gently by Atropos.


Why open your chest to fix what we no longer could?

Why pump on your heart when it no longer would?

I wanted to contest death

and I believed I should.

I wanted more, not less

time to gaze in your thoughtful eyes.

How could I accept the end of such a life?

And yet, when on that day the sun does rise,

When comes the time to stop and recognize

what no longer helps,

One also learns what does.

Even the darkest night for beauty vies

When with memories of dawn does it arrive.


We cut the thread too late, forgive me.

Our moment for farewell I failed to see.

But know

that in that moment before you left:

I learned to know that a moment of grace

Was the one I spent caressing your face,

That privileged I was to hear your words

(and know that you heard mine).

That the joy you gave my aching heart

With each and every smile

Are memories you left behind

And these will not depart.

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Correspondence to Dimitri Gusmao-Flores.

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Gusmao-Flores, D. Forgive me for not letting you go. Intensive Care Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05952-4

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