Taken too soon . . .

My friend, Louise.
Gregarious, always moving, always engaged.
She strode through life like she owned it
doing good for others, singing, laughing.
Pain from a pulled muscle slowed her a bit,
but she kept hiking, bicycling,
eagle watching along the Iowa River,
until she could ignore the pain no longer.

Cancer. A word. Not a sentence in her mind.
She fought. God how she fought.
Refused to be forced over the edge.
She took everything they had
and asked for more. Bring it on!
She told me, “I’m not afraid of dying.
I just don’t want to.”
Steps slowed. Belly bloated. Scalp exposed.
But she trekked on. Reached the fringe of living.

She  never acknowledged it. Would not let it win.
“My head’s freezing but doesn’t this hat look divine?”
She grabbed every filament of hope
no matter how thin. She held on for dear life.
Until one night as the household slept,
a kind ethereal spirit appeared beside her bed.
It spoke gently, words riding on the breeze
that floated in from her open window.

“It’s not like a high mountain top towering over a rough sea.
It’s simply a turn in the road.  
Hold my hand and I’ll walk you there.”
And quietly, in the middle of the night, she did.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today our prompt is to consider the edges and the fringes. We may if we wish, write a poem that contains the word “edge.” Photo is of my dear friend, Louise. She died in 2018 after a 2+ year battle with ovarian cancer.

20 thoughts on “Taken too soon . . .

  1. Ingrid March 2, 2021 / 3:44 pm

    This is heartfelt, Lillian. She sounds like a wonderful woman and an inspiration. I love the gentle ending you describe. You must miss her a lot.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) March 2, 2021 / 3:54 pm

    This really tugs at my heart, it sounds like she had a lot more to give… cancer is a dark journey for everyone.


  3. msjadeli March 2, 2021 / 4:09 pm

    Hard to read through the tears. You must miss Louise every day. Why do the good ones have to be taken 😦


  4. rogblog666 March 2, 2021 / 4:18 pm

    reminded me of a freind who fought and beat cancer. her and her husband will now never have children due to the treatment. this is why you have brought a tear to my eye
    thank you


  5. merrildsmith March 2, 2021 / 5:24 pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute, and I hope that gentle ending is just how it happened.


  6. Ron. March 2, 2021 / 5:39 pm

    I have no words. I’ll bet she was looking over your shoulder as you wrote this. Truly beautiful tribute, Lillian.


  7. Beverly Crawford March 2, 2021 / 5:57 pm

    Oh Lillian, Louise sounds a wonderful, vibrant spirit. Your homage to her is tender and so loving We all hope for a kind, ethereal spirit to “walk us over”


  8. ben Alexander March 2, 2021 / 6:18 pm

    I’m sorry, Lillian. Cancer is simply awful. I have a dear aunt who is only in her mid-50’s and has stage four breast cancer (this is her third time fighting the beast).

    Cancer. A word. Not a sentence in her mind.

    I loved that line in particular.



  9. veenafuna March 3, 2021 / 5:23 am

    Striking tribute,that’s how we know she’s rested in power


  10. kim881 March 3, 2021 / 5:49 am

    My deepest sympathy, Lill, and thank you for sharing your friend with us. I love her tenacity, the way she ‘refused to be forced over the edge’, and her divine hat. That’s the way to go, quietly in the middle of the night.


  11. Misky March 3, 2021 / 9:40 am

    “A turn in the road,” … I hope so, Lillian. It’s a perfect concept.


  12. Linda Lee Lyberg March 3, 2021 / 1:05 pm

    Such a brave soul and she had the most lovely eyes. I am sure she is smiling as she reads this Lillian!


  13. Carol J Forrester March 3, 2021 / 1:22 pm

    “Reached the fringe of living.” that struck me so sharply. We recently lost a close family friend who I’d grown up calling ‘aunt’, after two years struggling with emphysema. I could draw so many parallels between her and the image you’ve painted of your friend. It’s made me quite teary. You created such a beautiful tribute.


  14. lynn__ March 3, 2021 / 3:29 pm

    A life lived vibrantly and meeting death as a gentle turn in the road…beautifully written, Lillian!


  15. Helen Dehner March 4, 2021 / 8:45 pm

    I don’t have words adequate to describe the emotions flooding me …… beautiful words born of deep sadness. A beautiful friend / human.


  16. Zelda Rene March 4, 2021 / 8:50 pm

    Wow, I’m hushed by this lovely tribute…I’m sorry for your loss.


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