I’ve gone through ELO’s ‘Out of the Blue’, and am halfway through Elton John’s Greatest Hits, before I realised that these are both bands she introduced me to, and played on the stereo from my earliest memory. I’m back at my flat after 3 days staying with my sister in the Krayshott suburb of Tangleton – it made the logistics of shuttling back and forth from North Tangle Hospital much easier. I’ll be back up there later this evening – as the night owl of the family I suppose it makes sense I take the evening shift, sitting with her in the Oncology Ward.
I knew there was something horribly wrong last Wednesday at 5.25, when the security guard at work phoned upstairs to tell me my father was here to give me a lift. Generally my father is of the opinion that as a grown adult with a degree and well-paid job I should be able to sort out my own work transport.
In the car he told me that the “couple of years” we thought my mother might have left, with treatment, had shrunk now to 3 or 4 weeks.
Since that moment we’ve existed in an odd bubble, like insects caught in sap. The world goes on around us, muted. Sometimes it becomes louder, like a car with a loud bass stereo, driving past.
Then it’s gone again.
And we live and plan hour by hour. My sister is lining up every childcare favour she has ever been owed (quite a few). We buy boxed Ribena drinks by the gross, as it’s what she’ll drink. I wipe sweat from her neck and dribble from her mouth. The nurses at the hospital know she doesn’t have long, so visiting-time rules are suspended. We can show up at any time with as many people we want for as long as we want. We’re allowed to label a sherry bottle with her name and bring it in with a finely-cut sherry glass from home, so she can have a snifter with her partially-touched dinner.
What damage can it do, now?
And we wait. And wait.