Her Heart, Her Flowers


Sumam Abraham, MD1

Accompanying artwork: Ty Ennis

Perm J 2019;23:14-054 [Full Citation]

E-pub: 07/08/2019

This is a story and illustration from the upcoming book 100 Little Stories of Big Moments published by The Permanente Press.

Most of the stories and poems were written by clinicians in 15 minutes in writing workshops about meaningful moments in their work and life of practicing medicine. Professional artists were asked to create a visual representation of the story.

Her tiny, frail body lay in the middle of the room. The EMTs were busy trying to save her. I had never been in my neighbor’s house and didn’t know much about her apart from the fact that she was a second-generation Japanese woman who had been married to an African-American man. He had passed away years ago. Her children were around.

Every spring she would gather daisies from my garden to honor the dead. As she grew weaker she asked me to cut the daisies for her. The last 2 years she had not come out of her house.

I was the neighbor who happened to be a doctor. Now I found myself going between her daughter and the EMTs. I would explain what the EMTs were doing and then turn around to ask the lead EMT to call the code. The EMT reluctantly informed me that protocol had to be followed. I understood, but I still wanted to shout at the EMTs to stop trying to save her and let her die. I wanted to break down and cry as I imagined the pain her daughter was feeling.

Her daughter wanted me there as a doctor. I was her buffer between the ugliness of resuscitation and her heart, her flowers.


How to Cite this Article

Abraham S. Her heart, her flowers. Perm J 2019;23:14-054. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/14-054

Author Affiliations

Department of Family Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Washington, Seattle

Corresponding Author

Sumam Abraham, MD (sumam.m.abraham@kp.org)

Artist Information

Ty Ennis lives and works in Portland, OR. He graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Printmaking. Ennis is represented by Nationale in Portland, OR.

The story “Her Heart, Her Flowers” was originally published in leaflet, 2016;5(1). Available from: http://leaflet.thepermanentepress.org/2012-09-07-07-54-29/volume-5-issue-1/item/her-heart-her-flowers.


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