Today I am truly excited and most honored to host my favorite poetess Nicole Marie from Words and Other Things. Today’s compassion story is honest, raw, emotional, and I should warn you a box of tissues might be handy to have.  This post is sure to touch everyone’s heart.

 BeFunky_Elizabeth Lindhag.jpg


[kuh m-pashuh n]

1. a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

As I am writing this, it has been eleven days since I lost my grandfather. Eleven days since something jolted me awake at 6:39 AM, just moments before my phone rang, as if a part of me already knew. I think it was him, telling me before my mother could.

Our son is due on his birthday, the 26th of May. I strongly believe in that depressing circle of life, the one that gives us a bouncing, fleshy child crying his or her way into this world while another is deep in his hospital bed, family members passing around calming memories like a bottle of wine.

I watched a man who went to dinner every night (veal parmesan, lobster, filet mignon) throw up two bites of sugar-free apple pie. His last drink was from a Styrofoam cup of hot tea instead of a tall glass of Chianti. I scanned the arms that used to lift me, that with weight loss had now started sagging at their edges, home to a constellation of needles and wires, a bloodied cotton ball on the back of one hand covered with clear medical tape. It bothered me, how badly I wanted them to change it. They’d pounded on his chest the night before to bring him back to life. I wanted them to put a fresh cotton ball on his wound.

I fussed with his sheets, wondered how many bodies they’d warmed before him, whether they were still here. In the ICU I tried my best to avoid glancing into the other rooms on my way to his. Everything smelled like an ending. Even the fluorescent lighting felt like a burden. I squeezed his left hand while my grandmother held on to his right and I was heavy with the frustration that I could do nothing to help him, maybe put his arm around my shoulders and get him to the car, take him home where he longed to be, make him a casserole and pour two glasses of red, light him a cigar and hear about Vegas. I wanted him to jump up and laugh, claim he had fooled us all, sling a shotgun over his back and go hunting with my father. I was aching to fix him, but I couldn’t. I could only flail as he died.

This is where he’d stop me, my grandfather. He’d tell me to take my compassion and fold it like a silk handkerchief, tuck it into my jewelry box and save it for someone who needs it. While we knitted ourselves like a blanket around his bed he told my husband how much he loves women fawning over him. My uncle made an inappropriate comment and my grandfather called him an asshole, laughed even. I begged him not to leave before I could see him again and he said the only place he’d be going was the men’s room. Here we were terrified of losing him and he was the one comforting us with silly jokes.

Eleven days ago, my grandfather left me with a gift: the blessing to love and have been loved by the most selfless human being I’ve ever known. My son will know more than just his name; he will know enough to speak of him as if he’d known him his whole life.

He wouldn’t accept my compassion. Instead, in the face of death, my grandfather did something remarkable: he gave me his.




Nicole Marie is a bartender, dreamer, writer, and lover of red wine. She is Contest Coordinator and Assistant Poetry Editor for Philadelphia Stories Magazine, as well as Compilations Editor for Tipsy Lit. She lives in South Jersey with her amazing husband and soon-to-be baby boy.

Find Nicole here:


  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    In writing about my wonderful grandfather, I was blessed with the realization of just how selfless this man was, even in his final moments. I miss him more than words could ever say.


  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Nicole. Your Grandfather sounds like he was one of a kind. I also believe in that circle of life. I lost my Grandfather a couple weeks before my daughter was born (prematurely) – it definitely makes you wonder. What a wonderful legacy he left for you and your son. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, Jen. I am so sorry for your loss, but congratulations on your daughter! It is truly a wonder, how this “life” thing works. I will see his face every time I look at our sweet boy.

      Thank you again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful story. It is amazing how those who are dying can comfort and inspire those of us that will be left behind to mourn. I remember my aunt, shriveled and dying of cancer, said “don’t get all crying and weeping. I’m going to a better place.” After that, I felt peace. Thanks for sharing this.The writer in me loves that you passed around memories like and bottle of wine and knitted a blanket around him.


  4. Your post reminds me so much of my own grandfather who died of a heart attack while battling lung cancer. While he was in the throes of agony of the attack, his eyes fell on my mom’s aunt who had come to meet him and he scolded her for traveling to meet him so late at night. He too was a very selfless human being.
    Warm hugs to you….I think I know what you went through.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nicole, my heart is broken. I am a sorry for your loss. I lived this about 25 years ago with my own grandfather. It is eerie in its similarities, painful yet beautiful. The love and respect is so very evident in your writing. I wish you peace, lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I lost my grandma 16 days ago and am still struggling to come to terms with my emotions, I know for her it was a blessing she went, she was 91 and not only her body but her mind was failing her, but the thought that I will never see her again still hurts, I know I was lucky to have her for the 43 years of my life but I guess it also makes you a little greedy for that one extra day. I was honoured she shared her stories with me and I guess that is the one thing we do for our grandparents that really matters in the end we keep them alive with our words passed on the the next generations

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so sorry for your loss, Paula. Regardless of their condition, you’re right – we are greedy for that one extra day. Beautifully said. It sounds like you were blessed with an amazing grandmother.


  7. Pingback: Nicole Marie: Featured Poet | Laura A. Lord

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