It's an easy, but long nine-hour drive from Adelaide to Cooper Pedy. My partner Diamond loves to drive. It meant I could read and write as we followed the dotted lines to the underground Outback opal mining capital of the world - the REAL 'down under' as the locals like to boast. But I digress.
About three hours into our trip I discovered an article on Leonard Cohen - the influential Canadian troubadour, who gets better by the year (he's in his 80's ). The article was about the last days of his former partner Marianne Ihlen. (They met on the Greek Island of Hydra in the 1960's, when she was a young mother of one and spent seven years together). Marianne was the inspiration for a number of songs including 'So long Marianne', 'Bird on the Wire' and 'Hey, that's no way to say goodbye'.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Marianne was near death. Leonard was contacted about her impending death and wrote the most beautiful letter to her. It read
"Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine."
"'And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road."
Marianne's friend, Jan Christian Mollestad, who was at her bedside said
"She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her. It gave her deep peace of mind that you knew her condition. And your blessing for the journey gave her extra strength. In her last hour I held her hand and hummed 'Bird on a Wire,' while she was breathing so lightly. And when we left the room, after her soul had flown out of the window for new adventures, we kissed her head and whispered your everlasting words: So long, Marianne."
To transpose one of his original songs, 'Hey, Leonard, that was a beautiful and perfect way to say good bye'.