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By Josephine

Read more about Josephine




I can still hear her say ‘agapi mou’ (my dear).

Christmas was her favourite time of the year.

As she struggled to roll her cigarette, I watched

her hands shake, knowing that it would take a

miracle to bring my friend back and see the

Christmas lights for one last time.


Then I’d take the paper and tobacco and in a clumsy

attempt, roll what could only resemble a poor

version of a smoke, probably one of her last…

I hated cigarettes and she knew it but we laughed

together on the steps outside the hospice, unspoken

words but our eyes said it all,  time is drawing near.


Then our conversation interrupted by a nurse,

“Time for your meds!”  It was then the finality of it

all went rushing through my brain, she’s near her end.

Still she kept smiling, knowing Christmas was around

the corner.  She was already collecting new decorations

for her tree.  Wonderful the human spirit!


Each day I visited her at the hospice we didn’t

Bring the topic up, afraid that if we said it

aloud it would change things.  It would take away the

hope of a miracle.


She had had a hard life for sure and although I was

thankful that she had no more pain due to the

palliative care meds, we both smiled and joked

through it all. I admired her inner strength and

gratitude for what she was able to appreciate

even in this unknowingness, she still smiled…


Both our birthdays came and went, now we were

hoping the next big celebration would be spent

together remembering when I used to visit her at

the hospice, and my feeble attempt at rolling her

a cigarette!  Her laughter and sense of humour

was a pure tonic.


I kept pushing the thoughts from my mind, yes my

dear friend, that day is drawing near but you

won’t be here to laugh and reminisce with me.  How

lonely life will be without your wonderful smiley

face, your words of encouragement when things got



Another thought rushed through my mind…her cats!

I wonder if she’ll get to see all her beloved cats

again when she takes her final breath? Would

‘Garfield’ be sitting there waiting with his cheeky

look for her?  I sincerely hoped he would.


Christmas is almost upon us but my friend has gone

to higher places.  The memories are still everywhere

I glance.  At the bus stop where she used to catch

the bus back to the city.  At McDonalds benches

outside where we used to sit; that awful banana milk

shake we decided to try, both laughing at our choice

of beverage!


All the so called normal places; supermarkets, car

parks, swimming pool, beaches, all hold mixed

memories now.  She is still very much alive even

though she has been taken from this earth.  I can

still see her big smile and her open arms “My

friend, I’m so glad to see you, agapi mou!”


My Christmas wish to you my friend is that you

have finally found your peace.  I am grateful

for having you to share my journey.  My vision is

of you surrounded by all your cats again.  As we

turn on the Christmas lights, I smile and say,

“Happy Christmas, agapi mou”.