Sandra saying goodbye to the bluebellsToday I saw my last bluebells
Shyly sheltering in Kent,
Not carpets but clouds, frothing unfocussed,
Misty covers for the moist cool forest floor,
Shimmering through shafts of birdland sun,
Glimpsed shining through the shaking tops,
And I looked long and longingly
At those dainty drooping florets
Soon to set their fruits and drop to earth,
Regenerating strength for next year's growth,
The future waiting patiently within.
So I told my last goodbyes
To all those thousand, thousand open ears,
Telling them to bring forth scent of my farewells,
A little remembrance on the air,
Mustily continuing long after I have stopped;
And a single sexton bird called out his verse,
With distant echoing refrains,
Shaking the hanging bells
To ring their silent obsequies.

Bluebells was motivated by one of our by then extremely rare days out, whilst she was still trying to come to terms with the news that all the treatments had failed, and that she had only a few months to live. The trip being on 15 May, the bluebell season was coming to a close, so she did genuinely stand in the woods saying goodbye out loud to a sight she knew she would never again see.

She later wrote to LGThe Bluebells piece just sort of wrote itself. I wanted to see a bluebell wood for, as I guessed, one last time so, towards the end of the season, just before it was too late, we went down to Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks where someone had told me there was a fine display. The beginning part I had written beforehand, in contemplation of the visit, but while we were there, in the wood, I suddenly felt the need to write so sat down in the car and wrote the rest of it there and then.

By "the beginning part" she seems to have meant simply the first two lines, which are of a different quality to the rest. More significantly, the appearance of the bluebells as "Not carpets but clouds, frothing unfocussed" was something that had taken us both by surprise and so could not have been written about beforehand.

In a draft email, apparently never sent and with unknown intended recipient(s) -possibly a draft of a posting to a forum- she wrote of a very close friend

However, she is having difficulty in understanding my frame of mind. I have shared some of my poetry with her, and it is true that much is strong and dark. She says that, given my new situation, she now understands why last year I was writing about the fear of recurrence (having formerly believed that once treatments were over, it would all be behind me and I could look to the future, etc.). But now she has written to me saying I should not have written about saying "goodbye" to flowers that would return next year when, as I believe, I will no longer be here. She tells me there is always hope, and I should have ended by saying it would be great if I made it to next year for another visit. And she then said: "Miracles do happen you know. God bless."

She is such a good woman and I know she means everything for the best but it did irk me. It seemed another way of saying "Think positively". I replied that my writing expresses my own feelings and no amount of earnest wishes by others is going to make my feelings other than they are. And that yes, I was indeed saying goodbye, conscious that the flowers will continue to grow "after I have stopped". I also said I don't believe in miracles. Was I too harsh in my response? It just felt like she was denying the validity of my own experience. (Personally I think it is folly to live with false hope and, on the contrary - hard though it is - the only way to accommodate to a disastrous situation is to be as realistic as possible.)