It’s July 30th—Sophia’s birthday.
She would be 27 this year, but (as noted HERE) she will now always be 22—“forever young,” like Keats himself.
Sophia turned 22 in hospital. The lovely photograph on the splashdown page of this website was taken on her 22nd birthday—one of the precious handful taken on that day which are made special not just by their circumstance, but by their truthfulness.
In the previous weeks, Sophia had been desperately ill. At one point, she was told with brutal directness that she had weeks to live.
The battle against mortality which Sophia had always seen as crucial to the creative arts in general, and to her own work in particular, had become an actual battle for life—but by this day, her birthday, there had been a blessed moment of respite in the fight against her terrible opponent.
She had struggled back from the doorway to death. She had survived. It was a small victory.
But Sophia had, by this time, fought a fiercer battle and won a greater victory. The greatest challenge is not the grim physicality of mortal illness (hard enough though that is), but confronting the thought of one’s death, the existential reality of it—and in Sophia’s case, to do so at only 22.
One of the senior staff at the hospital said after Sophia’s death that they had never met anyone quite like her—to be so calm, so composed, and yet so young.
But you had to know Soph, that mind and spirit of hers.
Sophie had thought it through. She had considered the logic of it. She had confronted the thought of her possible death, centred it within her philosophical and theological understanding of the world, and decided how she would live and perhaps die in relation to it. (Remember, Marcus Aurelius was one of her favourite thinkers from the ancient world.)
And this is what she did.
The sweet young face that looks out at you from her photographs is the face of someone who has won the spiritual battle with Death.
This is not a small victory. This is a triumph.
Today, on her birthday, it is a good time to remember that victory of hers. Death did not, and will not win.
Sophia lives in her work, but she is present too in images of her. In her quiet but powerful way, Sophia was so vividly alive. Her spirit shone out of her. She was one of those people whose soul is visible in their eyes.
Here she is, in one of the photographs from her 22nd birthday. Such a steady gaze in that sweet girl’s face—her eyes full of intelligence, wisdom, truth, and just a hint of laughter. . .
It’s your birthday, Soph. Your spirit lives.
As part of that living spirit, we wish to announce that the first Sophia Nugent-Siegal Award for a poem has been made to celebrated Australian poet, MTC Cronin.
Details of the award are available HERE.
Well done, Robyn. Sophie would be proud of you.
Death doesn’t get to win, Rowena.
There is no surer proof of that than love itself. A truth I know you live each day.
Was thinking about Soph on Monday. Lovely tribute Rob, and her ripples continue forever. ‘To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die’ [Thomas Campbell]
Absolutely…and it is so in ways more than memory.
One of the poems I have written for Soph ends: “The poem does not end here.”
The poem does not end here, dear Ben.
What a beautifully written article about a remarkable and brilliant person, forever young. Wonderful news about the awarding of the prize to MTC Cronin. Thinking of you. Love Joph
Ripples of Soph’s life…
Love to you too, J.
Moving tribute to Sophie Robyn. Remembering Sophie on her birthday today and also thinking of you Robyn .
You write so beautifully Robyn. Soph’s Spirit certainly lives …. birthday blessings! Love, Kaye
Yes, as Donne says: “One short sleep past, we wake eternally/ And death shall be no more…”