between ridiculous

it’s a fine line

we’re saving a woman
from killing herself
because her life
is a form of dying

she says if she has to go on
it’s not worth it
she might as well pull out the PICC line
that delivers liquid nutrients
to feed her
and just bleed for a couple of minutes
till it’s over

a very fine line

sometimes it makes sense
to be thinking in terms of
an ending
I can understand that
yes I can

no really
I can
when life is reduced
to never tasting food in your mouth again
never being allowed
to bounce a grandchild on your knees
lest you start bleeding again
and always always having the bloody PICC
to remind that you’re an invalid
I can understand

and the anger too
to have your life destroyed like this
through simple mishap in a routine procedure
in the operating theatre

I know about the anger

it’s just that
before you can decide
it’s not worth it
and that you want
to pull the plug
you have to be sane

and if you’re miserable
because your life seems to be
in a terminal state
of appalling
that’s not sane
it’s a depression we have to treat
before you can do
what you have to do

you can’t be allowed to kill yourself
unless you’re of sound mind

the line doesn’t get any finer


the medication
and the shock treatments
have shaken her memory to the foundations
she’s started making little written notes
just to try to catch up on
the place where she was
before treatment

her husband helps
reminding her of what has gone before

and she may be no better
how can we choose any better
between what’s rational
and what’s mad
even when I might think
that I too would rather die
if I were in the same position

I can’t imagine
never being able to eat real food again
or living the whole of the rest of my life
through an intravenous drip

and in the meantime
the treatment has to go on

I wish she and her husband
would remember that
and not hold us responsible
for shooting her memory
to such very small pieces

or blame us
for not letting them act
on understandings they’ve reached
about what to do
when it becomes intolerable

it’s no good pointing the finger
we’re only trying to help her
to be rational
when deciding

it’s a terribly sublime line


one of the nurses told me
that there was a murder
a double suicide
up in the hills

the details were in the local paper

in the end
sanity prevails

© Frank Prem, 2010

7 thoughts on “between ridiculous

    • Hi Ali.

      Thank you. Yes, a dreadful situation that I found difficult to understand at the time, let alone to work out the moral and ethical issues.

      Not all beer and skittles, life.




  1. Pingback: Subdued – Daily Prompt – ladyleemanila

    • Hi Michelle. Yes, it’s just not a straight up and down matter to come to terms with.

      At the time, the entire staff of the ward that I was working in – everyone who’d had anything to do with the couple and got to know them – was relieved, sad and glad for them.

      It’s very hard to have to force someone to live.



      Liked by 1 person

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