Monday 9th June
Yesterday the stream of close friends and relatives trickled in to visit my mum, all aware that they may be seeing her for the final time. Every relative gives me a sad smile and a tight hug, before asking questions about how I am and how I’m coping. I try not to give too much away; I have to be strong. My cousin brings his baby son, but he isn’t allowed to take him into the ward; so whilst he sits having a cigarette with my Dad, I play with his son, making faces and pretending that this small boy’s mother is dying and I am distracting him and cheering him up.
I see lots of older women with sad smiles, staring at me with knowing eyes. They can see through my act, they know the pain of losing someone they loved dearly, but they let me pretend and I love them. Although they don’t call me out on my charade, I know they accept me with my pain and fear.
What they don’t see is the hidden depths of anger. I am frightened and I am sad, but mostly I am angry. I have never felt so much fury as I do now, and I don’t know how to control it. I feel like there is a raging beast inside of me and I am at it’s mercy. I watch my mum weakly trying to communicate from her hospital bed, slowly regaining some of her mind and her senses; I should feel excited, relieved, happy. But instead this animal, prowls around inside of me and I have to concentrate to keep it caged in. I am rude and I growl at doctors and nurses, questioning their decisions and listing their failings. I struggle to hold back from my family, and the beast roars at my Dad and my younger sister, who still hasn’t forgiven me for shouting at her in A+E. The other patients are watching and my mum is begging me to stop, to open up to her and let her into my pain. But I can’t. I can’t make this stop and I feel so out of control.
I sit outside of the hospital and send angry, frustrated texts to my friends. Lola calls me; I cry and shout at her, and she listens. She holds my anger until I am calm, and then she encourages me to sit with my family. But when I go back in, the anger resurges and takes over. A nurse comes alongside me and tries to understand why I am angry, but I shrug her off. Racked with guilt and shame for my behaviour, the beast turns on me. I tell my family I am going home. My Dad follows me out, tries to reason with me, calm me down, but I can’t make it stop. I watch helplessly as the beast roars, and cries escape. People stare at me, this insolent, rude girl. My Dad apologises to onlookers, explains that my Mum is dying and I am struggling to cope. I hear passing ladies offer their sympathy and my dad pulls me close to him, as though he could hold me together. I am broken, being trampled beneath the emotions that I can no longer rein in, and I am done.
I leave my Dad and the hospital, to wander along the street. Tears torrent down my face; I am drowning within my own fear, sadness and anger. I find a bench and sit, people are staring but I no longer care. After what I do next, the people who have walked past me will not matter. Nothing will.
I watch as the train hurtles across the bridge opposite me, and wait. 15 minutes later, another train. I scan the fence to find a broke panel, just above a wall. It would take me 2 minutes to cross the road. 30 seconds to clamber onto the track. I have to time it perfectly, so I will be gone before passers-by realise where I’m going. Another train. I look at my watch, I have to get it exactly right.
As I wait, a song drifts through my head, “When the pain is crippling, when healing takes it time, when I’m breaking apart, I’ll trust in you.”
Faces race through my head. I see Donna, and Lola, and women who have encouraged me and believed in me, when I’ve struggled to believe in myself. Ladies who have accepted me just as I am. I imagine what advice they may have given if they knew what I was planning to do next.
I think about Kim, whose Dad died of cancer several years ago, and the advice she gave me last night. She misses her Dad and is so proud of him, but the pain hasn’t consumed her. Life has carried on, and with God’s help, so has she.
I plug in my earphones and listen to “Trusting In You.” As the anger dissipates, I cry out to God. I wander back towards the hospital, telling God that I’m struggling, and then asking for his help.
When I reach the ward, I climb into my mum’s bed; I apologise and cuddle up beside her, glad that I have her now if only for a short while. For a few hours, all is well.