Jennifer Lothrigel




Your Last Breath Was Our Forgiveness

We didn’t speak
for years —
your words always hurt.

Nine days after my other grandma died,
I awoke from a vision of myself
sitting at your funeral
on a hard wood bench.
I was near the back of the church.
I tried to remember a time
you might have loved me.

An hour later Dad called
to say you had been rushed to the hospital,
your aorta torn.

I went to see you because my vision told me to
and because I didn’t want you to leave, incomplete.
I didn’t know until later
that you had asked for me.

I arrived just as they placed your breathing tube.
For a few seconds, we spoke a truce with our eyes
and then you shut them and began your transition.

I slept in your room
in a hospital chair,
because I couldn’t bare the thought of you dying alone.
But the truth is,
it was the only time we were able to love each other
without all the baggage.

On your last day
I touched your hand.
I had never felt your skin.
It was so soft, beautiful,
only gently lined with age.
I told you not to be afraid.

Then you and I, and the setting sun,
all let go together.
Your last breath was our forgiveness.


Jennifer Lothrigel is a poet and artist residing in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in Trivia – Voices of Feminism, Narrative Northeast, Poetry Quarterly, Firefly Magazine, The Tishman Review, Five Poetry and elsewhere. Find her on twitter @Jlothrigel

Note: this poem was originally published in Cordella Magazine

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