She warbled, “In that sweet by and by…” trailing

 off, dissolving into gasps for air,

still smiling, hand perched on the bedrail, frail.

Each breath was precious, not a word to spare.

“I never had much voice to speak of, even

 when I could catch my breath,” she fluttered.

The IV morphine gave her some reprieve.

“Oh, please, won’t you hold my hand?”

Smiles, uttered.

“I’m actually just a student doctor, ma’am.”

I felt a witless, useless dodo.

Books

could not have prepped me for this last exam.

I didn’t want to fail her. She then took

my hand in hers. “No need to stay too long.”

My silence harmonized with her swan song.

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