My Final Good-bye


 Deb Shirley

(In Memory of My Brother - Charles William (Chuck) Hyche, Jr.)

(December 18, 1960 - February 10, 1982)

If only I had known what would happen that day,
I would have said farewell to him in another way.
Who knew an eternity between us would pass
And my final words to him would have to last
As he crossed that divide?

I stood by a hospital bed that day long ago
And stared at a boy I did not know.
There was nothing about him I recognized.
“This is not my brother,” I surmised.
So how could I say good-bye?

I did not know this man. It wasn’t he.
They said it was. How could it be?
There was nothing familiar about that face.
No hazel eyes, no hint or trace
Of the boy I knew as we grew.

“Don’t just stare, speak to him,” my mind insisted
While deep inside my body resisted.
For in that moment, what could I say?
Would it matter? Would it change anything that day?
The nurse said he could hear. Did I not care?

She said inside this body lived my brother.
I wondered, “Are you sure it’s not another?”
The blackened arms were foreign to me
The swollen face, eyes that could not see
Me standing there. Did he not care?

I closed my eyes. I sensed his warm embrace
Long before when he looked into my face
And assured me that all would be well.
My broken heart would be healed.
Was it him I felt?

Did I smell his sweet perfume
Erasing the stench that filled that room?
If I listened quietly would I hear his voice
Telling me this was not his choice?
Did he stir in my illusion?

Why didn’t I say the words early that morning
When I lifted the phone and heard him moaning,
“Hi sis, I need help. I’ve a favor to ask.”
Why did I not sense my good deed would have to last
A lifetime and more?

I am grateful for that final chance
To hear his voice in excitement dance
As I relayed the good news help was on the way.
He did not have to worry and with nothing else to say
He replied, ”Thank you, I have to run.”

If only I’d said the words instead of good-bye.
If only I’d known it was our end, I would have tried.
But, alas, we never know the place when time will pass.
We cannot live as if we have an eternity to confess
Our undying love to them.

This was my last chance. I sensed there would not be another.
So, I bent near to his ear and in a soft voice murmured
The words that we all hold so dear,
“I love you. Brother, can you hear?
I love you.”

That was my final good-bye.

Contact Information

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Deb Shirley

12467 McMath Trail

McCalla, AL  35111

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