before the end

walking on sallow legs

nearing death

he weakly picks up the phone

calls the organ transplant unit at the hospital

where he is a patient


he reaches the receptionist

and for the very first time in three years

pushes himself

to ask the question:

“any ideas as to when i’ll be receiving my liver?”


before callously going on

to describe the many ‘deserving’ patients

waiting for liver transplants

those who are parents of young children, for instance…


that dirty _____

she broke my man

she broke him and i couldn’t fix it

i couldn’t repair his hope

i will never forgive her for that

he died two weeks later,

april of 2003

one month before

his 52nd birthday


by mary ann blinkhorn


I was going to write this for Three Word Wednesday, but for some reason, I couldn’t get past the word, sallow.




41 thoughts on “before the end

  1. John says:

    Sad. People are so mean spirited.

  2. oldsunbird says:

    Mary Ann, I am so sorry for your loss. And for the callousness of the receptionist. Some people have no idea how their words, or actions, affect others, and probably they don’t care. Sending warm thoughts and hugs to you. Mary

    • mypenandme says:

      Thanks. I thought I was reasonably over all of it. Every once in a while the whole series of events leading up to his death, creeps back. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Kris Kennedy says:

    So real! Such hard feelings. If these are your truths, I hope there is such healing in your transparency. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Jae Rose says:

    Sadly this rings true of many health ‘care’ encounters..why is it that the profession often attracts people who seem to dislike other people so much..perhaps they need an empathy transplant..jae

    • mypenandme says:

      I agree…though I must say…his regular doctors and specialists were outstanding professionals and went over and above their call of duty to be supportive to him.

  5. It was beautifully written, and yet sad. I grieve for you loss as I lost two young sons! There will be no words to explain how callous and uncaring some can be. I wrote a poem for a love one who passed two years ago…i hope it brings a smile to your face this day because it could have been written by you when you suffered your loss..dear sister I hope it lifts your spirit…much love to you always!


    When ever I see the butterflies flying
    I am reminded of your smiling face,
    As I see them taking wing into the sky
    I feel emotions which are never displaced

    For deep in my heart also live the butterflies
    As they come to life within me heart each day
    While I count the many sweet memories of you
    Which in my thoughts and dreams now stay

    The sheer brilliance of their many vibrant colors
    Produce a vivid rainbow deep within my mind
    Which fills my heart with such an unwavering joy
    Allowing me to enjoy them for endless times

    And the butterflies will be my dearest treasure
    Leaving me never again quite feeling the same
    For the peace they bring can never be measured
    Because on their wings are gently imprinted your name.

    Wendell A. Brown,
    Copyright 2011, from
    “When Each Day I Write Of You”
    Appeared 5/10/2012

  6. An incredibly powerful poem. Reminds us we all have rights, and someone choosing deliberately to break spirit like that just seems so callous.

  7. Alex Ukr says:

    My name is Alex, I am from Ukraine, I am 32 years old man. I don’t smoke cigarettes and don’t drink alcohol. My blood is O+ and I have a good health. If you need liver transplant I am ready to give part of my liver, but I want to receive a big compensation for that.

    P.S. This is not a joke and I am not a scammer or cheater.

  8. Clanmother says:

    Tragic! Without kindness, we are all lost…

  9. Leeza says:

    Never mind the bleeding-heart crap. She more than did not belong in that job, that phone answerer – she deserved to be fired. It does not need to be pointed out that she lacked compassion – her business is/was not compassion: her business was to be business-like, professional, matter-of-fact, calm, bland, nice. She acted like a crude, ignorant piece of garbage. She needed to be removed from her position.

  10. alvason says:

    touching and sad …

  11. A good lesson for all. This must have been one of those moments in life when you wish you weren’t a ‘nice’ person and yet, what is done, is done. I would like to say to you – this was an extremely ignorant thing said by someone insensitive to the needs of others. You have every right to be angry and sad. Recognizing that it is okay for you to feel this way will go a long way to you coming to terms with this sadness.. I am truly sorry that you, and your man, experienced this.

    • mypenandme says:

      It was a horrific two weeks that followed–one thing after another–so horrific that this minor detail escaped my mind until much later. Thanks so much for your kind words of support.

  12. adinparadise says:

    My heart is so heavy for you right now, Mary. I’m so sorry. *hugs*

  13. sharechair says:

    Wow…. this is powerful. I felt so much… tears, anger, sadness, rage, helplessness, ….
    and I’m so so sorry.

    • mypenandme says:

      Thanks. I’m feeling better again. Every once in a while it hits me–that two week period. Just moving into a new place…unpacked boxes everywhere…the near car accident while in a taxi which jolted his body causing the onset of a nightmare…being in the middle of the SARS epidemic…being forced to go to the nearest hospital where none of the doctors knew him…only a kidney specialist there–no liver specialist…no transfers allowed…no access to his medical records or ability to contact his specialists…mistakes made during his procedures that cased irreversible damage…getting his blood type wrong for instance…a very crude insensitive doctor in charge who was saying terrifying things right in front of him (while he could no longer speak.) I ended up holding his hand every moment that I could right up until the end. I kept telling him everything that I loved about him and shared with him all the wonderful memories that I had from over the eleven years that we were together. He died while we were holding hands and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. They say the last thing that goes is one’s hearing. I was cognizant of that until the end. I even held his hand for several minutes longer after he’d passed on, but I did feel the exact moment that he left his body… Anyway…thanks for your comment. M.A.

      • sharechair says:

        His death was hard enough, but to be compounded with everything else….. I don’t know where you found the strength. You are one special person. Lucky him to have you in life and at the end.

  14. eof737 says:

    So sorry to read about your loss… and about the wickedness that lives in some human hearts. Sending you virtual {{{hugs}}}.

  15. tersiaburger says:

    I am so sad for you. I blogged about organ transplants today and hope in a small way it may encourage people to sign up as organ donors. We should all advocate organ donoring!

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