Almost a decade ago, I was seized by a medical emergency with very little warning. After a frantic day of searching for an available hospital to perform a needed surgery, I was wheeled into the operating room in the wee small hours of the following morning—in the very nick of time I subsequently learned, due to a severe case of blockage in my colon, caused by diverticulitis.
During the endless days of recovery in hospital afterward, I consoled myself in the lonely nighttime hours by composing a poem in my head, one stanza at a time. On each following morning, my wife would write the stanza down as I recited it from a sometimes drug-addled memory.
Once home, I tweaked the poem somewhat, then used it as a foreword to a book of tales I was about to publish. It centered on a sentiment my golfing pals used to joke about in our retirement community—that, no matter what might be ailing us on any given day, at least we were still standing on top of the grass, rather than resting beneath it.
While I was composing it, the poem provided a promise of hope for me that my recovery would be complete. Later, it became a source of inspiration to do whatever it would take to make that happen.
As things turned out, the hopefulness expressed in the final stanza—written before a second surgery restored me half-a-year later—did bear fruit. And almost ten years on, the poem still resonates for me with its message of faith and optimism.
On Top of the Grass
It struck with a rush, and hit full-flush,
The pain that would not end.
It twisted my gut until it was shut,
And made my belly distend.
It took fierce hold of my abdominal fold
As I lay on the emergency bed.
I feared I would die, and the question of “Why?”
Kept banging around in my head.
~ 0 ~
My angels of life—my daughters and wife—
Were there from beginning to end.
A sense of their touch meant ever so much
Through pain I could not comprehend.
From dusk until dawn, I thought I was gone
As we raced through the city’s grim gloom,
With siren and lights, we searched the dark night
For an available surgery-room.
~ 0 ~
In the back of the van with the ambulance man,
Sedated, but dogged by the pain,
I yearned for relief, though it was my belief
That I’d never be normal again.
I knew that I should make myself understood,
And tell him I was sinking down fast.
Then he gave me some slugs of painkilling drugs,
And oblivion quickly slipped past.
~ 0 ~
Some hours anon, the doctors had gone,
And I wakened, my girls at my side.
How fair they did seem, my loveliest dream,
Their smiles of relief beaming wide.
They stroked my poor head as I lay in my bed,
And together we gave thanks for life,
The four of us there, reliving the scare,
Just me, and my daughters and wife.
~ 0 ~
The details were grim, but I wanted them,
So I’d know what had happened to me.
They gave me the scoop on my colonic loop,
And I learned it was taken, you see.
But enough does remain, they’ll connect me again,
Just as soon as they figure out why—
And what—caused the block, caused my system to lock,
And laid me so low I could die.
~ 0 ~
I’m home now, it’s great, and so I just wait
For my good health and strength to return.
Then I’ll journey back down to the city’s downtown,
Where the doctor’s next steps I will learn.
A scope and a scan, MRI if I can,
Will give her a plan to pursue,
Then under the knife, I’ll get back my life,
And that life I shall gladly renew.
~ 0 ~
What does it all mean, and why have I been
A victim, or so it appears?
I’m not sure I know, but I’ll go with the flow,
With more smiles than pitying tears.
I know this for true, and I’m telling you,
That all of this sickness shall pass.
When all’s said and done, at each dawn of the sun…
I’ll be standing on top of the grass!
I hope you, too, will be standing there for many years to come.