Friendship Tree

Friendship Tree

First her son
Then her husband
Both died suddenly
At times
So lost and sad
She felt she’d cease to be
With each death
More fruit fell
From the fragile friendship tree
Once luxurious
Almost nothing left to see
She wondered
Why the friendship fruit
Dropped on fallowed ground
Thought maybe with time
They’d blossom anew
Rotting fruit was all she found
Then her health deteriorated
Breathing more difficult
As her body slowed
More fruit
Fell from branches
Withered fruit was all that showed
Ah well she thought
That’s how it is
I’ve still a few fruit to treasure
With help
I’ll plant a new tree
Fresh blossom brings much pleasure
Replanted friendship tree
Much stronger
Nestled in nutrient filled soil
She was peaceful and content
Knowing her new
Friendship fruit wouldn’t spoil
She still doesn’t understand
Why so much fruit
Rotted on the ground
These days
She’s filled with gratitude
For the new friendship tree she has found

Tricia 5/2014

Written in response to the following prompt. Thanks Pooky and Peter for leading the way.

About triciabertram

I have written all my life. Writing helps me to make sense of a world I often don’t understand. Poetry is my supreme solace, closely followed by literature and music. When my son ended his life in 1999 I embarked on the most difficult journey of my life, my grief journey. To survive in this unknown, harsh landscape I had to write. It was for me, the only way I could even begin to move forward. Then in 2009 my darling husband died suddenly and so my journey continues. I write about other issues but because of my life experience, grief and death are continuing themes in my writing life. In our culture I believe there is a fear of death, an inability to accept the inevitability of our mortality, and this creates enormous difficulties for the bereaved and those around them. I have begun this blog in the hope I will create a small ripple in the pond of fear that is currently drowning the reality of death and grief. I will continue to skim the stones of my truth, watch them bounce, and see how many ripples I can make.

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Poems. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. This is so sad Tricia. I love the fact that you have perhaps a smaller tree with slightly less beautiful fruit now but which is hardy to wind rain and snow. But I’m sad that the original, bountiful tree bore fruit that was so quick to spoil. xxx

    • Pooky, I was sad initially, but these days I’m so grateful for the precious friends I have. I think some of those that fell by the wayside liked ‘Tricia the entertainer’, they couldn’t cope with my sorrow. Then some that stayed through the sad times don’t understand my illness. They think if I just try harder I’ll be able to do the things I can no longer manage. These days I’m a bit of a ‘monument to mortality’ 🙂 and some find that a little too confronting.

      Thanks so much for the prompt, Pooky. Writing this has been illuminating and empowering. xx

  2. Beautifully expressed Tricia on such a tender subject. The fruit on your tree now is succulent and you give it away generously. I am one of the fortunate people to taste such fruit. Thank you for the rruit you give me from your friendship tree ❤️ Xx

  3. This is strikingly beautiful, painful, poignant and there’s a tiny infusion of “hope”. I love it.

  4. How very heartbreaking. But there’s hope, which is always something. Take care my friend.

  5. Very lovely Tricia. There is sadness there, understandably, but the positivity at the end is very empowering!

  6. Although I live so far in distance, I hope you’ll count me as some of that living fruit, Tricia. I was actually thinking of you today. I have a friend on route to Australia and I thought how much I’d love to visit and see you. Who knows? Maybe some day. I will never understand how it is that death, loss and illness drives friends away. What is the human component that doesn’t function to surround and protect. It’s a terrible misfortune, not just for the person who is the recipient of this disregard, but also for the friends who walk away. I hope that newly planted friendship tree blossoms and blooms with the most particularly delicious fruit. ox

    • Dear Debra, you’re my delicious California orange. Sweet, nourishing citrus fruit. That you’re always here for me even though I’ve been absent from your blog means so much. I’ve just read your post about the LA Port and the Korean Bell and will be responding soon. How I would love it if you were one day able to make it here. 🙂

      And yes it is a ‘misfortune’ for those who couldn’t stay. As I wrote to Pooky, I think my openness about my life experiences is too confronting for some. So many people fear death and maybe even chronic illness. It’s hard to be my friend and manage to ignore either. And then there are those who see my hard won acceptance of my illness as me not trying hard enough. Ah well! I’m happy and grateful for all the precious fruits that nourish my life.
      Tricia xx

  7. dear Tricia,

    you may never see this response, but just in case you do, I want to let you know how deeply sorry I am for the deaths of your Dear Son and your Dear Husband, I stumbled upon your blog recently, and found both your poetry and prose so compelling – I now have read every post up to this one.

    my husband died 18 mos. ago of a rare cancer. two years into his illness, just after his 2nd stem cell transplant, I was diagnosed with ST IV metastatic breast cancer. my Beloved willed himself well to do all he was able to be at my side during treatment. after 8 mos.we both were deemed in remission – NED, no evidence of disease. we decided to live life re-invented, and the savor every moment of every day; we travelled, our love and our lives never tasted sweeter. just 9 mos. later, I suddenly awoke, and found myself catapulted to my husband’s side of our bed – my Dearest Love had died in his sleep right next to me. just a tiny cluster of cells in his brain that went undetected, located in lethal position had the power to stop his heart and end his life. I still cannot believe he is gone and the road of grief has been a torturous and long nightmare.

    just 8 weeks after my husband’s sudden death, I was diagnosed with another cancer – uterine with mets to the cervix. the utter shock, the horrible terror of going through 9 months of hellacious treatment alone, without my precious husband, my best friend, my lover, my soul mate of nearly 46 years, still reeling with the awful loss and all of the “business of death” sent me into automatic pilot mode. I went through the motions like an automaton, and only for the sake of my children and grandchildren who were still so grief-stricken and had suffered so much with both parents and grandparents having had cancer at the same time, then losing their father and papa. except for those dear ones, I had no will to live and often begged my Darling to please, just come get me. I am now in remission with both cancers – I will be in treatment with breast cancer for the rest of my life – there is no cure for ST IV metastatic breast cancer.

    this is all to say that the poem you have written has resonated so loud and clear with me. I have often thought I could be someone’s worst nightmare. and it has come to pass. the pain and sorrow of loss of friends on top of the losses of the loves of our lives is a cruel reality. we simply do not have a very good grip on the language of grief, the words, the actions, the consolation of what to do, what to say…and the expectations placed upon us to “get over it”, to put on a fake face to assuage the discomfort of people who are clueless about our suffering is stultifying and only adds to the enormous sorrow we must bear as we work through our grief and try to find our “after” life.

    but I have found that my friendship tree has also blossomed with such gorgeous bonds of people I have had the good fortune to meet and been welcomed with such understanding, such empathy, such compassion. and the beautiful friendships that have stayed intact have grown, have flourished with such abundance of love and attentiveness. I try to do whatever I am able to speak out about the language of grief.

    once, a woman I only knew casually sat next to me and held my hand. she said, “I want you to know that I am so very sorry for your loss, but I don’t know what to say or how to help you. What can I do for you?” my answer was, “you have already done something for me in asking your question, and it is so profoundly appreciated.” I went on to mention just a few simple things that can mean so much to a bereaved person; say his name; ask me what he was like, how did we meet? if I cry, no words need be spoken, only a warm and gentle hug would be enough. don’t ask me, “how are you doing?” unless you really want to know. try to understand that grief has no time frame, that each person grieves differently, that we never “get over it”, but try to get through it – that as we move forward with baby steps, grief often carries us back to square one, and makes us feel we’ve made no progress whatsoever (even though we have made progress). do not be afraid to talk about our person who has died with the thought, the fear that it will upset us. we are already “upset”, sometimes every minute of every hour of every day. the relief and gratitude for any kind thought or word about our beloved will trump tears and “upset” every time. understand that when we are feeling sad, lost, and broken, tearful, angry, and a mixture of all the above at any given time, that we also can be receptive to feeling happy, peaceful, grateful, enormously hopeful and are able to get outside of ourselves to help and be present for others. we can still be good listeners and respond with kindness and compassion for the troubles others face – the grieving process has helped honed those skills and sharpened our perceptions of the fact that each one of us have or will suffer tragedy.

    I hope, dear Tricia, that by sharing my story, by validating and appreciating all you have written about the grief you have suffered offers even some small measure of comfort. I wish I could hug you and tell you in person how much you have helped me through this vale of sorrow and loss. I send you my best wishes for comfort, for hope, for resilience with the chronic illness you endure, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your beautiful, insightful, and thought provoking words that have been like a soothing balm to my aching heart.

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

    • My dear Karen,
      I’ve just discovered your beautiful, heart-wrenching, insightful, authentic comment. I’m so very sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’m deeply saddened to read of the death of your husband. It’s horrendous to have to try to go on, to face each day when we feel as if an integral part of us is missing. To go on while suffering with cancer and all that entails is something beyond words.

      Karen your words are such a gift, something I will read again and again, and as I read them I’ll know I’m sitting with a kindred spirit, someone who ‘gets it’. I’m so grateful you have shared a part of yourself with me. I’m also grateful for your validation. It’s hard to find a reason to go one when my life is mostly limited to sitting in a recliner or resting in my bed. I have wonderful carers who make it possible for me to stay in my home, and I know I have much to be thankful for. But it’s also very difficult to live a life of receiving, so for me your words are not just comforting, they are life giving.

      Your writing is eloquent and inspiring and I would love to read more of your thoughts, your daily life, your small joys, your deep sorrows. I will give you my email address with no expectations. Just know if you feel like keeping in touch I’d love to hear from you. It may take me a few days (hopefully not a few months 🙂 ) to respond as I’m struggling with exhaustion at the moment and some days thinking and typing are beyond me. I sense you will understand this after all you’ve been through.

      My email is and I live in Melbourne, Australia.

      Thank you so very much for the gift of your words.
      Take care
      Hugs Tricia

  8. oh Joy!, my dear Tricia – you found my comment! I am so happy that we have now connected, and even happier that you have expressed such kindness, compassion, empathy – and I FEEL the hugs you have sent me.

    thank you for providing your e-mail address. I will write to you soon – it’s the wee hours of the morning here on the US east coast – I just decided to check your sight hoping you might have seen my message. I will fall asleep filled with gratitude and joy having heard from you. thank you, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt words.

    much love,


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