It was a lovely day. Sun was out, real spring is just around the corner, I had had a good sleep albeit with slightly foreboding dreams and visits from family beyond the veil.
Nonetheless after a few good meetings with friends, there was a bounce in my step as I went through the coded doors, used sanitiser on my hands (because why play roulette with flu?) and entered the ward.
“He’s still at the table,” someone nodded, although it was closer to lunch than breakfast.
And so he was. Just sitting. Occasionally squinting and reading out letters he was imaginary seeing, “9, V, 70, x….” but there was nothing to see and no, no sense in it at all.
“Hello,” I kiss him gently, calling his attention to me, and eventually he turns. Looks with moderate interest. “Who are you?” he wonders.
I tell him but it makes no sense. He goes back to staring and wandering. He has had his bath today and was happy, they tell me. A welcome change from weeks of fear and resistance. Now he sits.
“But where is she?” he asks, over and over, murmuring, occasionally touching my cheek, “So beautiful…. where is she? I don’t know.”
Suddenly, unexpectedly – we have been in so many similar places so many times – the knife turns again in my heart and i cannot bear it. Cannot be stoic.
Why now can I not still the pain which brings tears, no matter how I try to stop? My heart twists and breaks again and again. There is no away from it.
.As I weep, cry, bawl, ashamed, in the middle of the dining room, the staff brings me comfort and understanding and tissues and tea and hugs.
The other residents don’t notice or don’t mind. Nor does he, except to consider me carefully. They all have their own worlds.
I leave, as he stares with some interest at his lunch soup, and then sit howling in the car.
There is no charity, no comfort in this dreadful epidemic. And I have been drained of all my courage.