Wednesday, 28 October 2009


“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.” - Leonardo da Vinci

A friend in Europe has been battling cancer for several years now and despite her valiant efforts and the best medical care, she is fast losing the last battle. Her cheerfulness, her optimism, her positivity and selfless sacrifice in the face of a certain death make her a very special human being. Her emails even now, have been full of humour, wry observation and a resignation to death that is only seen in people who know how to live, and have lived a full life. I was devastated when I learnt how little she has to live and if she sees Christmas and the New Year through, she will be doing well.

We chatted on the phone several times in the past couple of weeks and her irrepressible energy and her good humour, that were hallmarks of her winsome personality, unfortunately were somewhat reduced. Peaceful forbearance has replaced her indomitable fortitude, but her courage still shines on strong and unquenchable. We love her very much and we are with her every precious day that is left to her. Her family and friends are there nearby to support her and spend these last few weeks with her.

This poem I wrote for you, Jean…

The Last Autumn

Autumn comes to me for the last time
With only Winter to look forward to, now;
No more the blush of Springs,
Nor the Summers’ laughter.

The flowers, singing birds, blue skies,
Are now only a souvenir,
Preserved in the watercolours
Of the painting on my wall.

Love peters out, flesh withers,
My graying hair, no longer dyed.
And you beside me, remind me
Of the golden days gone by.

Winter ahead, rain in my eyes,
Snow in my hair, cold in my heart.
My fingers bare twigs, clutch at
Fleeting memories of healthy youth.

Jacqui BB hosts Poetry Wednesday...


  1. Lovely poem. I certainly share you feelings at this time as there seems to be a lot of missing people in my life this year.

  2. It's a lovely poem and tribute to your friend, Nick. It's amazing the strength people manage to draw upon when faced with something like this, but very, very sad that illness, disease happen to cut short someone's life.

    She sounds like a very courageous woman. My heartfelt wishes go out to her and her family and friends.

  3. Beautiful poem. Your words brought tears to my eyes.

  4. This is indeed a beautiful poem. I feel your sadness and pain. Be heartened by her courage - she has more than likely accepted easier than you or her family have. Your world will not be the same without your good friend but treasure the memories.

  5. Best wishes to your friend and the people around her who love her. This is a sad poem for a sad situation, but your friend sounds as though she has lived a fulfilling life.

  6. Sad and beautiful all together a wonderfully sensitive poem Nicholas.

  7. Nicholas, this is a moving tribute that shows understanding and affection. When one of my close friends succumbed to cancer, she did not want pity she wanted to celebrate, She actually held her wake before she died and invited all her friends and family to it. We all had a chance to say our farewells and show her actively all of our love and affection. Her funeral was a very small family function with "absolutely no frills" as she requested.
    As you say people who know how to live well also know how to die well.

  8. Penthe's has left an interesting comment in that the same thing happened to a friend of mine. She gave a fabulous lunch, on a fabulous summer's day in her fabulous garden to which family and friends wee invited. we all knew what was going to happen but that day of celebration of life filled with fun and laughter will stay with me forever.