July 6, 2013

Leslie died on Wednesday evening.

She didn’t want to die, of course, but she didn’t hold herself above death or see any reason she should be out of its reach. Bill, her husband, quoted Les to a group of us in a letter he wrote shortly after she died:

While she was in the hospital, she was visited by a chaplain and this is what Les had to say about her dying:

“I’ve had a good life. I’m ready. I trust in the process, the flow. Little fishes die, big trees die, who am I not to die too? Abraham Lincoln did it, my mother did it, my neighbor did it, I can do it too.”

I can imagine a small lift of one shoulder to dismiss her own importance as she said this. How like her to combine Abraham Lincoln, the old trees, her neighbor, her mother, the fish – the great and the so-called ordinary. She was extraordinary, a great soul, but also as ordinary and real a person as you’d ever want to know.

The day after Leslie died, I took my iPad over to Alice’s apartment and played her song, The River. Alice pressed the iPad against her good ear and listened intently. She could make out the melody and some, though not all, of the lyrics. When she put the iPad down, she turned to me and said, “How wonderful that you all have this.” And when I showed her the photograph of all of us around our friend in her hospital bed, Alice zeroed in on Leslie. Her finger touched just below Les’s face, and she said, “So brave. So brave.”


From Leslie’s song, Stars:

I’ve seen too many mornings to be doubtful of the light

I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night

– Leslie Robinson Sharp (1951-2013)

Thank you for your kind, sensitive, and touching comments and e-mail responses to the post, What to Take to a Dying Friend, and thank you for sharing it with so many people through re-blogging, through Facebook, and privately with people you love, as well as with support groups for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

NOTE: The copyright for all of Leslie’s music and lyrics belongs to her family. Please do not reproduce without permission. If you want to know how to get permission, feel free to contact me and I’ll direct you. Write to: andrea AT andreacarlisle DOT com.)

14 Responses to “Leslie”

  1. Sondra Says:

    May her spirit soar!
    How sorry I am for you and the loss of your Friend.


  2. Nancy Says:

    My heart aches for you and others but what gifts of words and songs she left for so many, even ones like me who never met her….this life never ends.


  3. Leigh Says:

    My heart goes out to you and to all the other people who loved this remarkable woman.


  4. A beautiful soul moves on


  5. What a wonderful,lovely woman ! May her next incarnation be swift and pleasant. May I die with such grace and lack of fear.

    I am a Buddhist and see death as only the next step in the circle. It is not THE END of anything, only another beginning, another chance to get it all right. It is easy to say this when death is not staring me in the face. What will it be then? I don’t know.

    May you all be well and happy.


  6. I wrote that last before I went to the picture of all of you with Leslie and to hear her magical song. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face for the sheer beauty of it all. The song will become one I sing and share for a long time. Thank you, Andrea, for giving me so much so often.


  7. And thank you, again, for sharing this beautiful soul with us. I am sorry for your loss — and grateful that such exemplary and grace-filled people fill the world.


  8. Vanessa Says:

    Oh Andrea, your word are so poignant and so fitting, thank you for giving voice to what so many of us can not find the words for. Just as Leslie was such a gift, so too are you a gift in my life.


  9. John Says:

    May you find some comfort and strength in the memories …

    I’m very, very sorry for your loss of a beloved friend.


  10. mary narkiewicz Says:

    She was heroic. I hope I can be as brave -when my time comes- as she was -as she navigated the harrowing waters of passage. Condolences to all her family and many friends. thank you for sharing this , Andrea.


  11. Bonnie Belatti Says:

    The loss of a friend. Tears



  12. An eloquent piece of writing. Leslie would have liked it.


  13. cmflet Says:

    Andrea, I am so very sorry for your loss. Leslie lives in your words and in the hearts of her family and friends. May her journey onward be wondrous and joyful.


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