Sunday, August 30, 2009

You can close your eyes. . .it's alright.

*patient gave permission to have her story shared

"So close your eyes

You can close your eyes,
It's alright

I don't know no love songs
And I can't sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song
When I'm gone. . . ."

~ James Taylor

It's a gloomy and gray day today. Intermittent thunderstorms here in Atlanta have us all cooped up in the house. The kids are jumping on the furniture, and watching way too much television . . . .

I am sitting on the couch in the sun room watching the raindrops fall against the windows. It's so dreary out there. . . yet so apropos considering how I am feeling right now.

My patient died today. Just turned thirty years old. Homeless. Addicted to crack cocaine. Not sure how, or why or the exact cause of death. Just know that she had been back on the street and was probably still using. Just know that they worked on her for a while, and she just didn't make it.

I am crying right now because it's times like these when I feel so helpless. I am crying because I hate crack. I really, really do. I just want to run down the street screaming into the storm clouds until somebody, anybody hears me. I want to tackle every crack dealer and druglord one by one, punching them hard with my flimsy little wrists until they surrender. I want to flush every single rock down a giant toilet, and stomp on every glass tube, every home made soda can crack pipe, and every butane lighter. I feel like grabbing the inner city convenience store owners up by their collars and shaking them for carelessly selling all of that stuff side by side on shelves, knowing why folks are buying it. Yeah, I am mad as hell at crack right now. I really am. Crack is so, so wack.

Man, I wish I could have done something to pry her away from the stronghold of that addiction. I wish I could have just wiped the slate clean for her-- erased the mistakes, the HIV, the fear, the desperation. I wish I could just rewind back to when she was little, and be there to read her a story at bedtime, to tell her every single day how loved she is, and just to expect great things of her. . . .like my parents did for me. I wish she had all the chances that I had. She deserved it just as much as me.

Even though my interactions with her were brief, I remember them vividly. Right now, I am remembering her bright smile, her full head of wooly, unkempt hair, and the big, unreserved hug she gave me before she left the last time. I am smiling now as I think of the finger nails my resident painted bright orange for her during one of those first hospitalizations. It was such a thoughtful gesture.

"What color do you like your nails painted?" my resident asked her.

"Orange," she had said, " 'cause it looks pretty against my brown skin."

She was right.

Little sister,

You were so much more than what you called yourself - a "crackhead."
You were fearfully and wonderfully made. . . .
You were a beautiful, young, vibrant woman of color. . . .
and you were sick.

You fought for a long time, and now you can rest.
Know that somebody was praying for you and rooting for you.
Know that somebody cried when they heard that you were gone.

It was an honor to know you and to care for you.
I mean that.


Dr. M


"It won't be long before another day
And we gonna have a good time
No one's gonna take that time away
You can stay as long as you like

So close your eyes

You can close your eyes
It's alright
I don't know no lovesongs
And I can't sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song
When I'm gone. . . ."

- from James Taylor "You Can Close Your Eyes"

~ A Grady Angel ~

~Sunrise: 1979~
~Sunset: 2009~

J.T. singing "You Can Close Your Eyes"
take a moment to listen to it and reflect on a Grady Angel. . . .


  1. My daughter is one of your residents. She shared this patient's story with me bc they had the same birthday. I was praying that she would be able to fight what proved to be insurmountable odds. She did have a story and for a short while, you guys gave her some hope and showed her the love she so desperately needed. Know that there are those who cry with you. Keep your beautiful thoughts coming!

  2. Your daughter is a special, special person. I really appreciate how much heart she put into caring for our patient. You should be proud of her. Thank you for sharing the journey with us. . .


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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