Ma Belle Voisine

20160921_183051-sNot a poem this week, just a true story.
I wrote this piece almost a year ago.
This seems like the right time to publish it.
Click here to hear it:

Ma Belle Voisine

Every now and again we meet someone special.
My neighbour is just such a person.
Someone who makes life, and the world, just better.
She is older than I am, at least in her late seventies, maybe more.
She has a slightly over-enthusiastic spaniel, and she keeps birds on her balcony.
I can hear them singing as I write.
As is often the case, it is hard to say exactly what makes her so special.
She always has a smile, always greets me as though she is pleased to see me.
We break the polite rules of French social life together.
The norm is to exchange kisses only once per day, on the first meeting.
We do it each time we meet, and we actually make lip to cheek contact each time.
I call her ‘Ma Belle Voisine’, my beautiful neighbour.
She tells me I am adorable, the same spelling and meaning as in English, but with her northern French accent it says so much more.
She speaks no English.
When I gave her a signed copy of my book, she smiled at me, told me she couldn’t read it.
That doesn’t matter, I said, you can look at the pictures. It is a gift because I love you.
Her eyes shone.
I met her in the street yesterday.
She told me I looked tired.
I said I had been unwell, confined to barracks for the past few days.
Why didn’t you tell me, she asked, I could have helped you.
The look she gave me clearly indicated that this was no empty offer.
I thanked her and left quickly.
With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
Because she recently told me, reluctant to share, that her specialist recommended chemotherapy.
She has pancreatic cancer.
When I asked her if I could do anything, she just smiled.
C’est pas grande chose, she said, it is no big deal.
Every now and again we meet someone special.

Monique Primault passed away yesterday, September 21, 2016.

Tu me manques, ma belle voisine.

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11 Responses to Ma Belle Voisine

  1. mandibelle16 says:

    Your friend sounds like an amazing lady. She sounds so thoughtful and compassionate. That she would take care of you despite recent her own awful illness. I hope she can beat the cancer, but I know that chemo in itself is a hard battle. 🙏🏻

    Hugs Elephant.


  2. Dear Elephant,

    Beautiful tribute. Monique live through you in the wide expanse of your heart. Thank you for introducing her.




  3. This is deeply touching Bri. May we be all be so blessed as to have a belle voisine.
    I lost mine last year. I still keep her voice messages on my phone telling me to look at the beautiful sky and how every day is a gift. It is you know.


  4. A powerful and beautifully tragic story. Yet this filled me with gladness at the relationship you shared.


  5. emmylgant says:

    De très belles paroles pour une très belle femme qui a illuminé ta vie comme tu as illuminé la sienne.


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