The last leaves are golden,
most have already flown. Branches
hang bare beneath ashen skies.
Not so different from when you climbed,
hand over slow hand, waging a war
inside your young mind. One leaf
breaks free, hangs on a moment,
before leaping into the maelstrom.
I imagine a short fall,
sharp jerk and silence;
but it’s only a leaf and spirals away,
no note to mark its passing.
– Ryan Stone
Jeremy was new at school; small and shy. I saw him walking home through the deepening snow, staggering under the weight of a bag full of books. I offered help and we shared the load. He didn’t say much but his smile was radiant. It was a moment I quickly forgot, but from it friendship burst. Years later, during his OAM acceptance speech, Jez floored me: “I dedicate this award to my friend. Years ago, I cleaned out my locker and headed home to take my life. A random act of kindness diverted me. Never underestimate the power of friendship.”