As I sat by your bedside, I thought about
Two books you bought me.
One of them, A Little Princess, was inscribed,
"To my little princess."
I was ten.
The other, True Gift, was inscribed,
"To my daughter, who has grit in abundance."
I was seventeen.
The lesson I learned from the first book was
that a true princess knows how to give.
The lesson I learned from the second book was
to fight for life.
Now, as I watch you struggling with your own
and I remember the first lesson
I wonder if you remember the second.
One night, fighting to tear off a life-giving mask,
you reached your arm up, heavenward,
as if pleading
for God to take you
and I wouldn't let you go
A few weeks later
you sat up and asked for orange juice
and drank it
like a miracle
I brought you honeysuckle
and eucalyptus oil
Newsweek and poetry
But one day, you'll reach up
and all the gifts in the world
will not bring you back down.
I guess part of havingtrue grit
is knowing when
to give something back