Losing Bill, a Poem




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The Nurse


He’d only been living here a month,

although he came frequently for respite care

while his wife went to writers conferences.

He loved bragging about her,

the author of two books,

When his decline made caring for him difficult,

he moved here to stay.


After that, he went downhill,

lost strength in his good arm

needed help eating,

developed bed sores so painful

he couldn’t sit up for long.

One day, he quit eating,

was given oxygen.

His wife signed end-of-life papers.

Four days later when I came to work, he was gone.


The Husband


For six years,

I couldn’t use my left arm or leg.

My wife did everything,

wiped me when I pooped,

dressed me, got me out of bed,

helped me with my computer,

prepared meals, did laundry and other chores.

Other women would have walked away-

she didn’t, despite limited vision.

For six years, I was happy until


I didn’t feel like eating.

It became harder and harder for my wife to lift me

so I reluctantly agreed to move to a nursing home.

She visited me every day.

We went out once or twice.

Although I wanted to be involved,

it was too hard, too painful.


I wanted to be in a better place.

I knew it would be a shock for her

so I held on as long as I could.

When she finally gave me permission, I went.


The Wife


The nurse’s call woke me at 6 a.m.

I thought, this is it, I’m a widow.

I knew it was coming.

In a way, it was a relief,

but that didn’t take away the emptiness.

At his bedside in the nursing home,

I kissed his cold face,

positioned my cheek in front of his still mouth,

expecting a response—none came.

I buried my face in his soft hair,

caressed his cold chest,

told him I loved him,

took his belongings,

my life changed forever.


The Wife, Four Years Later


His suitcase from the nursing home sits in the closet, still packed.

His computer and other belongings gather dust

in the nook off the kitchen that was his for years.

Whether I find someone new,

there will always be a place in my heart for him.

Life and love go on.


I wrote the above poem during a workshop this past weekend given by University of Wyoming instructor Lori Howe. Click this link to hear me read it. Please check out my new memoir to read more of our story.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir with another novel on the way. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

7 thoughts on “Losing Bill, a Poem”

  1. Abbie–I thought that this poem was a part of your new book; however, finding out that you just wrote it at a recent workshop was interesting. In the mail on Friday, I was pleased to receive a copy of your new book (after I ordered it on Amazon on the day after Labor Day). The quality of the cover and page material, as well as the size of the book, are impressive.

    Warm regards, Alice


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