Most of you will now know that sadly my son Mark died on Thursday 19th January in the Royal Marsden hospital in London. Please see his blog for his full story and take a look at his amazing fundraising appeal . He has to date raised over £120,000 for Cancer Research UK and it is his wish that we all keep it going. He has written a book based on his blog, with extra background material. Please check here on Poetry Space or on the blog for updates. Also please follow the page Beat Cancer With Mark if you can. Poetry Space is also on Twitter.
I have been very moved by the tributes pouring in for Mark and the kind messages through the post and on social media.
Here are some poems that have been written about or inspired by Mark’s story:
You watch your child asleep
and hear each quiet breath he takes,
see the lashes on the cheek you’ve loved
for years, the shape of lips.
And all of this so precious—
no other word will do.
You watch and and wait and love
and listen to each breath he takes,
and hold a grain of hope you know
to be no longer true.
He wrapped gifts for his mum
and his Dad, for his three brothers
carefully tucking in the ends
sticking up the corners
writing names on each one.
It was weeks before Christmas,
fairy lights were switched on,
evenings were dark and cold.
Shoppers were clicking on line
or visiting the shopping malls.
Yes, it was beginning, the
Christmas hope, the run up
to panic, the surge to excess.
But he beat them to it; put
the scissors away, the tape
in the drawer, the five gifts
on the chest by the door,
ready in case; ‘In case I’m not
here’ he said. ‘I want you
to have something from me’.
The family gulped back tears
and waited. What else could
they do? Then on Christmas
day, he gave them the five
precious gifts, his last.
In the East side of Bristol he was born and raised
On the football pitch ref’ing he spent most of his days
Whistle blowing, calling ‘foul’, tryin’ look cool
All in hope of trumping brothers Matt, Dave and Paul
When a couple of cells that were up to no good
Started multiplying in his late childhood
He spotted one dark mole and his mum got scared
So she took him to the doc to check the mole on his head
Mark begged and pleaded to have it taken away
So they cut around the border without further delay
With the lesion removed, he was finally there
It was time to move on, and hope that life would be fair
Long gone were the days of Mark the Cub Scout
But not his commitment to help others out
Some wait for a spark like Darwin or Edison
Mark’s light bulb moment came when he chose medicine
Here we all met at this campus in Leicester
The place where Mark started that autumn semester
By day he would learn about health and disease
By night be would devour the house block of cheese
And so we move onto the extra-curricular
In which Mark became a respected practitioner
Whether chasing a ball or bossing at squash
Or waving his T-shirt to Baywatch in Mosh
During Mark’s budding career at the MSB
He decided to embark upon a second degree
Whilst his parents thought this an academic frontier
Or a clever ploy to extend his medics rugby career
In the Loaded Dog most Saturday nights
Mark and the team, lining up some quiet pints
But before he could count to 20 + 1
His six years in Leicester were all but done
And as we rejoiced on that warm July day
We were blind to the diagnosis that was coming Mark’s way
But the memories that Mark created in Leicester
Will be cherished by all those who met him, forever.
A haiku from Eileen Carney Hulme:
when I think of you
the scrabble board has one space
only love fills it
And this from a close friend of ours:
It should have been a wedding
Young people in their prime
Guests from every corner of your life
Cousins from abroad
The best of best men had best men galore
Tales a Mum should never hear, but is so glad she did
Love, Laughter, Tears
The bride talks of her love, brave, in tears
Everyone in tears
Life affirming, glorious, …………….until, until
They say (angry, reluctant) “We’d better talk about the cancer”
They were Medics after all
There was love and pride in bucket fulls
Or was that bucket lists
It was a wedding
It was a funeral
And this piece of artwork from Kirsty Fraser: