Sunday 2 September 2007

Oh Captain my Captain

Tim Footman is a writer based in Bangkok. One day through his blog roll I came across a link which I felt was something quite different. It was the blog of Brian, a 45 year old advertising copywriter and soon to be published author based in Donegal who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and only six to twelve months to live. I wrote about it here.

There is no happy ending in blogging I guess. I assumed that one day I would be thinking about Brian, realise he hadn't posted for a while, and that maybe there would be a slow but increasing sense of 'The End' parading as radio silence. This indeed happened early last month as Capt. Pancreas had gone quiet for a few weeks but then he reappeared with news of being in treatment. I guess there was no online access in the hospital.

Brian is responsible for coming up with the phrase "trying to squeeze the sweetness out of every second" and I just discovered he died on Friday.

He leaves a seven year old son, a wife and a bunch of people that never met him in real life but could feel his warmth and generosity.

O Captain my Captain
O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

- Walt Whitman


  1. Puts everything in perspective really doesn't it. I think about how incredibly simple my life is, compared to how complicated his life must have been.

  2. I think that blogging about dying is much more humane than sweeping it under the carpet as we do in the West Charlie.

    I don't know if I could be as brave as Brian but I'd like to think so.

  3. Damn.
    Like you I had wondered how he was as he hadn't posted for a while. His blog is left as he left it, as if he has somehow popped out to the shops and never come back.
    So sad.

  4. I found out unexpectedly that he died through Tim Footman in Bangkok, Nigel.

    A little prayer for his son and wife who must be missing him terribly.