The Death Letter Project
Cart 0


Neill Duncan | One-Handed Saxophonist

Death is lurking. It has been for three years now. It took a foothold before the amputation and took the sacrifice of a limb to hold back its advance. I think it was the day death found me I had the most powerful dream.

I left a ruined earth, grieving those loved ones I had to leave behind. As I let go I started sailing through space. The most beautiful space and colours I'd never seen, lights and shadows divine, truly a place for gods.

I may have floated for a thousand years, I don't know, but this was my time of letting go, of shedding, until all that was left was spirit.

Eventually I landed and regained consciousness. I was lying naked and face down in mud and water back on earth. Looking up I could see it was night, the trees were still smouldering from the apocalypse. It was a beautiful apocalypse and I was the only survivor.

I started running. I ran and ran and slowly more and more animals started joining me. Animals of elegance and beauty, of all shapes and sizes. Animals I'd never seen before. We may have run for a thousand years until we found a deserted school house. Finding the last smouldering branch we built a fire in the house. We knew this fire had to be eternal, it was our warmth, our survival.

This was the beginning of time, the beginning of life. This was my death dream. This was my BEAUTIFUL APOCALYPSE.

I awoke feeling liberated from the fear of dying and blessed to have truly died in this dream.

It was only months later I realised maybe it was the night the cancer entered my body and death started lurking.

Editor's note: For thirty years, Neill made a living playing the saxophone, either solo or in bands, however his music career almost ended in 2012 when a rare form of cancer caused doctors in Sydney to amputate his left arm. It took a year for instrument maker Maarten Visser in Amsterdam to custom build the world's only one-hand tenor sax especially for Neill. Further reading...

The Death Letter Project welcomes your comments and feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page or alternatively submit a message below.

  • What a beautiful turn of phrase: "the day death found me". - Fern Smith (email)
  • Wow! - Rosada Hayes (Facebook)
  • Stunning - Stevie Lindsay Ross (Facebook)
  • Beautiful - Jane Frosh (Facebook)
  • Another beautiful letter. Thank you. - Josephine McLoughlin (Facebook)