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Today's show reminded me of my mother and how she died. Just as Frank Lilley said on the show, I wanted to learn from my mother how to handle the process of dying and death. As I listened to and observed her in the weeks before she died, I took note of things she said. One night, I wrote a poem incorporating some of her words and phrases from poems that she and I remembered during that time. I read the poem to her as a way of letting her know what I was learning from her. I also read it at her memorial services.


Emily, like you, I did not stop for death
until it, kindly, stopped for me.
Six months to two years, the doctors said.
I opted for the latter
thank you very much.
For I had promises to keep
and miles to go before I went to sleep.
I did not rage against the dying of the light
(although, to be honest, at times I did.)
Courage and dignity and grace, like Papa
was my mantra.
At times, that cough kept aggravating me.
Teresa, do I have a cold?
You smiled, ruefully.
Lung cancer, I answered
to spare your having to reply.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln
how were things?
Children, you pampered me
with strong coffee, fruit cobblers, and hugs.
Peavine, you raced in
and lay beside my bed.
Friends, family, you sent cards, flowers, paintings
and a song written just for me.
Julia, you called and told me to wait for you, up there.
Where else did you think I’d be?

That business of dying
I recommend it
but not highly.

Deborah Cromer
July 2009
based on the words of Pamelia Sale Cromer, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas