I went on holiday. It was just seven days – in fact, we went both there and back via Addenbrookes, so in this respect it was just 6 days.
And yet, I had forgotten just how fuck hard this is.
I had convinced myself that Mum was fine, and very slowly on the mend.
Maybe it was the only way I could deal with taking the holiday booked months before any of this happened?
That six days of not seeing the incremental improvements would surely mean a notable change?
That, although we dreaded the ward (as distinct from HDU or ICU), it was the way out of the hospital. So the move, on day one of the holiday, was a positive one, no?
It was a different ward from that which she had been in twice previously – on both occasions ending up back in high dependence/critical care.
This ward had a view though, she could see the Gog Magog Hills from her bed. This had to be a good thing, right?
I have returned to a Mum who doesn’t recognise me.
A Mum who looks at me with glassy eyes. Who raises her eyes brows and shrugs her shoulders, if I’m lucky enough to get any reaction at all.
I have been reading about comas – you mustn’t assume that a person who has been in a coma is experiencing the world as they once did. You mustn’t assume a raised eyebrow is scepticism or indifference, that lack of smile is lack of recognition.
But that, is fuck hard.
The one person who, from the moment you entered this world, has given you – ok, not everyone is lucky enough to have had this experience – The one person who, from the moment I entered this world, has given me undying, uncompromising, unshifting, loyalty and love. The one person who had faith in me. Who when I came second, for the umpteenth time in life, told me she believed in me, that she knew I had it in me to be first.
She held my hand when I took my first steps, when I went to school for the first time, when I entered my first music competition, when I started my periods – actually, that was my Dad as my Mum was at an orchestra rehearsal – but you get the picture.
She is my rock, my everything.
And yet when she just opened her eyes? She looked at me, with not a flicker of recognition.
No love. No care. No blown kiss, as I had received many times only a week ago…
Maybe she thought I was a nurse? Or a doctor? Or the dietician? Or the SALT? Or the ENT Doctor? Or the physio? Or just someone visiting the women in the next bed.
Now THAT is fuck hard.
And I stop writing.
And I shut the laptop.
And I return to the ward.
And Mum is awake still.
I sit on her bed – forbidden in hospital apparently, but when her field of vision is so limited I could not give more shits if I tried, and I’ve only been reprimanded a couple of times over the last 11 weeks, so it’s worth the risk.
I reach for the old iPhone, and choose a Mozart Violin Concerto.
I am so aware that, as a musician, when you can’t actually play, that listening to music can be painful – but surely no-one can imagine how it might feel to have been lain in bed for so very long. To be nil by mouth, for so very long. To be alone at night – surrounded by strangers, by machines beeping and whirring, woken every night repeatedly for months on end.
And to be unable to communicate.
I like to think that music might end up being an escape, a safe place, a hiding place from the horror.
We listen to the G Major Concerto – a piece I’m pretty certain she played – if my memory serves me right, to the great Yehudi Menuhin.
We stare into each other’s eyes. Mine are welling up, and I’m pretty sure hers are too.
I can’t be sure, but I wipe away the tear that seems to have formed in her right eye.