Small Comfort

March 13th, in addition to marking my son’s 31st birthday, was the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. I am pleased to report that memories of Dad’s strength, intelligence and ever-present support have replaced the images that haunted me in the years immediately after his death. My thoughts of him then were of an ill, diminished person, and that was as painful as the loss itself. I am happy now to be able to call upon memories of my healthy father, but the pain of that time is still part of me. The other day I was struck by one poignant memory and wrote a prose-poem.


Small Comfort


I bring the Styrofoam cup to my lips

Breathe in the steam and scent of coffee

Take a small sip to test the temperature

The liquid warming as it travels through my system

Soothing my throat

Reaching the pit of my stomach

Grounding and calming me.


Sitting next to Dad

Who is shivering in a hospital bed

In the emergency room

Taken by ambulance early that morning

My strong, broad-shouldered Dad

My hero

Brought low by chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Or maybe it’s the treatment

Is it worse than the disease?


Doctors and nurses minister to him

Trying to figure out what’s happening


“You think I’ll be able to get my chemo today?”

He asks hopefully

Ever focused on moving forward,

Working toward remission or cure

Or at least more time with us

“No, Pop. Not today. Don’t worry about that now.”


I am grateful for the coffee

Warming my hands

Clearing my bleary brain

Settling my nerves

Small comfort


I post this now in the midst of the craziness and uncertainty – with a hot cup of coffee offering small comfort, but at least it is some comfort. Thinking of friends and family and wishing everyone strength and hope in this challenging time.

Dad and me in happier, healthier times

8 thoughts on “Small Comfort

  1. It doesn’t matter how many years go by.
    Sometimes the loss feels like a gut punch.
    Your Dad had a special gift for making others feel better about themselves. I was the recipient of this gift on several occasions.
    Mine was gone 25 years last December.
    Best and most lasting memory of his two weeks in the hospital before he succumbed to colon cancer: Ira sitting next to him and holding his hand, telling him it was ok to let go, that my mother was waiting to welcome him, that he would always take care of his daughter and grandsons.
    Thank you for this heartfelt and emotional remembrance.


  2. Beautiful piece-poignant and so well written. I do well remember your dad’s singleminded determination to get his chemotherapy and do all he could to get better. It was so admirable, so brave.
    As sad and hard as that time was, I will never forget those personality traits that made him that bigger than life, heroic man.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your dad was very good to me. He treated me with respect and love. We had some great conversations about our shared interests in history and politics. He comforted me when I was down or confused. I loved it when he called me “doll”. I miss him.
    You do him great credit with your wonderful words, but more importantly, with how you live your life.
    This year is 35 years since I lost my dad. You’re right about remembering the good but still having the pain of the tough times. Losing a parent leaves a hole that nothing can quite fill. Thank you for sharing.


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