Tuesday 7 February 2012


I was thinking of blogging about the FA's high-handed taking managerial decisions out Fabio Capello's hands, and England cricketers collapsing, and rugby-players surviving, but sometimes such momentous matters are put into perspective by something intensely personal. And so today sport, and politics, can be forgotten.

The reason is that when I opened my laptop this morning there was a message from Dave Moss, which still has the potential to make me well up. It was the news that his wife, Jozanne, had died. She is one of the most remarkable friends I've never met. I think it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who described us as an "odd couple". He kindly provided the foreword to the book Jozanne and I wrote together, I Choose Everything, with the sub-title, "Embracing life in the face of terminal illness".

We'd been put in touch when Dr Peter Saunders met her on a trip to South Africa and she'd read my first book, My Donkeybody. A young mother of two and a primary school teacher, she'd been diagnosed with MND a few years after me and mine was the first book written from that situation by someone with a similar faith to hers. I'd been wanting to explore further the implications of terminal disease for faith in a book, and when she began to send me things she'd written for friends out of her experience they seemed to me to provide exactly the practical groundings my reflections needed - and so the book came to be written. Jozanne had a translucent sort of faith which spoke to people of all shades of viewpoint. As Jozanne's decline was quite rapid, we were delighted when the publishers, Monarch Books, planned to publish the book in summer 2010. We weren't sure how much longer she had for this world.

Clearly she was a fighter, and of course she had every reason to remain for her children, Luke (13) and Nicole (11), but now her fight is over, as the prayer beautifully puts it:
Support us, O Lord,
all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord. 


She died peacefully with her husband, Dave, and her two children beside her at home. My overwhelming feeling is of the privilege of having "known" her and worked on our book together. They say teachers have a greater influence than they are aware of. Jozanne undoubtedly inspired, and will inspire, many more people than she ever dreamed possible. It's a curious aspect of weakness faithfully borne that it can have such an effect. She had no doubt that her ultimate home was "to be with Christ which is far better", and I have no doubt she is now discovering its truth. My only regret is that I never met this lovely woman in the flesh. However, one day, Jozanne, I trust I will meet you and enjoy your smile.

Finally, a quotation which would fit Jozanne from Charles Dickens, born 200 years ago today:
"Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts."


  1. What beautiful words for a beautiful person. She was my friend who I loved very dearly. Sadly we didn't get to see much of each other the last few years due to distance. I now live in the UK. But I will always remember many wonderful hours spent together having tea and chatting about life and love and our dreams! I will miss her more now even though I have been missing her for many years already! Our thoughts are with Dave and the children and her family and friends that have been there daily for her. xxx

    1. Thanks, Diane. I would love to have met her. I imagine her as very unassuming but full of life. I'm sure we'll all be thinking of Dave, Luke and Nicole and her family and friends in the coming days.
      I wonder where you live in the UK. In the Oxford area by any chance?