Thursday, 19 April 2018

NOT A WARRIOR: A TRIBUTE TO SHELAGH CHEESMAN


Not a warrior. Just a woman.
There is nothing 'just' about being a woman.

You wore purple slippers while incarcerated
In the place without colour.

You noticed the small failures, and sought to
Correct the large ones.

You housed two tortoises for thirty years,
And built another home for those of us

Wandering in the bewildering wilderness
Of lupus. Systemic lupus, that uncontrollable beast

That ropes us into the pen of our lives,
Trying to tame us into submission.

Not a warrior. Just a woman.
Who wore her height stylishly.

Who ate her cake ravenously.
Who lived her truths wisely.

But not without humour. Never
Without humour.

Are you here now? Like I asked you to be?
Or have you already flown far, free

To conquer new lands, unite with old friends,
Your mother, who left you too soon.

As you have left us, too soon.

Shaista Tayabali
April 16, 2018

linked with dverse poets



Shelagh Cheesman was the Chair of the Cambridgeshire Lupus UK group, the champion of many, and my dear friend. Along with our friend Colette Barrere, we formed part of an informal club called The Chloe Club, wearing our shared necklaces, lunching at the Tickell Arms, breaking down our encounters with the medics into humorous morsels. 
I can't say words like 'I'll miss her' because they sound too banal. And anyway, she doesn't seem to have left me. Yet.
I recited the poem above at her funeral service on Monday 16th. It was a poem she commissioned herself two weeks before she died at Addenbrooke's. She unknowingly gave me the title of the poem with this quote: I don't like the word 'warrior'. But I like the word 'positivity'. 


The not-so-formal photo: Shelagh (L), me, Coco (R), post Tickell Arms lunch

8 comments:

ash said...

I love this. This is fantastic.

My favorites:

"You wore purple slippers while incarcerated
In the place without colour."

"You housed two tortoises for thirty years"

"Not a warrior. Just a woman.
Who wore her height stylishly.

Who ate her cake ravenously.
Who lived her truths wisely."

Sherry Blue Sky said...

You have written her so well, her spirit floats on the page in those purple slippers. I am glad you still feel her close by. It is hard to lose such a friend....though one can never really lose all the love and laughter shared.

indybev said...


What a lovely tribute. I am at an age of losing my dear lifelong friends, one at a time, so I truly appreciate the spirit of the poem. Beautifully written!

brudberg said...

I love this for so many reasons... but maybe most its connection to a real person... to be paid such a tribute is so needed for the author and for the circle of friends

Frank Hubeny said...

Beautiful memorial. I especially liked the last two lines.

lynn__ said...

Who knew you'd be reading this poem as a goodbye? Thanks for sharing your fond memories of a special friend.

gisella said...

A lovely tribute.

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