Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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I Miss You, Too

The evening of December 14, 2020, we (health care staff) found out that starting December 15, no visitors would be allowed into the hospital. As a nursing assistant, here I reflect on the experience of patients, their families and health care workers in the first few days after loved ones were removed from the hospital setting. 

There are fewer flowers in the hospital rooms now.

The ones sent to room 22

have been taken out.

They are at the nurses’ station because Ms. L couldn’t bear the smell

of her favorite flowers now that she can’t eat.

I doubt she’ll tell you.

She wants you to think

she is alright

even though 

she hasn’t been able to take any walks out of bed or sips of water and jello and broth 

like she did when you were still at her side. 

I miss the pictures in room 26.

Not just because it allows me to imagine Mr. J’s life

with family, friends, a voice and working limbs, but because your voice and photos

might be enough to bring him back.

We, the healthcare team, can talk at him,

but we can’t know

the movies to play again

the teddy bear or blankets he might like

the names he knows

the memories and words potentially buried deep down.

He can’t tell us.

When room 2, Mrs. P with the trach, presses the call button, I don my gown to read her lips: “JIMJIMJIM.”

Jim, I miss your visits with Mrs. P, too.

I miss

the huge smile you bring to Mrs. P’s  face,

the fear that gets erased

because you make this confining room feel cozy, safe. 

All I can do

is put lotion on her hands,

CarMax on her lips.

“You are so brave, and I am sorry I can’t do more to help you.”

Within minutes, she presses the call button again.

I don my gown as I watch flailing limbs

gesturing wildly. I approach to read:


“What do you need help with?”


“How can I help?”


I am at a loss as well

but the worst is knowing the only way I can help you is by leaving:

leaving to find someone else

who might be able to offer medicine,

or something more.

I miss the reminder that when patients leave the hospital, someone — 

those loved ones who came to visit —   

will be with them.

Now, as a nursing assistant, I face 4 a.m. conversations in hospital rooms

to converse about care, quality of life, death. 

I truly don’t know what is the better option, 

if, there is a better option.

In former times,

family could sit together

to discuss options, roles, the future.

Now, we are here, two strangers,

a new family of sorts,

left to make decisions in the dark.

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Micah Trautwein Micah Trautwein (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Micah is a first year medical student at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH class of 2025. In 2019 she graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. After college, she worked as a nursing assistant on a trauma unit and became certified in Spanish Medical Interpreting. She enjoys running, writing, and exploring the outdoors in her free time. In the future, Micah would like to pursue a career in emergency medicine and global health.