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by Janet Webb

In a word. Helpless.
Is just being here all I can do?
I cook, she can't eat.
I clean, she wants nothing moved
not even used tissues piled in mounds.
I read to her. She sleeps.
I talk. She listens with
labored breathing, deep coughs.
With no makeup, hair wisps covered,
she kisses her husband, hugs her son.
They leave.
She is brilliant answering Jeopardy
questions, she smiles at comedy shows.
Her medicine keeps company close-by.
I shower her. She thinks she is drowning.
I file her nails and toenails, she giggles.
She whispers of her son's future, midst tears.
I listen.
Just being here is all I can do.
Not helpless.
Grateful. In a word.

"Helpless" flowed from pen to paper as Janet Randol Webb cared for her sister, Judy Olinger, during the last days with the battle against breast cancer. Janet graduated from University of Southern California. She lives in San Marino, California, with her husband, delights in the light of her five children and three grandchildren, and hopes to publish more writings as she moves forward toward her fairytale ending.