Showing posts from December, 2013


Prayers can be answered in disconcerting ways. Progress can be more harrowing than stasis. Our Advent hope was for my mother to wake from her coma. And, one day, she opened an eye. But the eye  fixed on us unseeingly and unnerved us so thoroughly that the 9-year-old now needs a nightlight to guard him from the ghost of Grandma. We longed for words. And one day they came. But the words are frightening. My mother thought the 11-year-old was Boudicca. She reckons fellow patients are Russian spies and the nurses Machiavellian conspirators. The woman who was planning the redecoration of her kitchen that night she walked home from work now clings to my neck and implores me to release her from a prison cell. I sometimes wish again for the coma for, in that peaceful figure, I could imagine my familiar mother waking. I try to comprehend how a vivacious career woman can, through the inattention of a stranger, be transformed in a second into this. And yet I know that we are lucky. It is the h


My mother was returning from work. She called my father to ask him to record The Archers and she started walking from the station. Then, a few hundred yards from home, she stepped onto the zebra crossing. It was a doctor who hit her - outside the hospital where he worked. Her shredded clothes have been returned to us in a carrier. Her handbag now sits in its usual place on the hall chair, the shoes she was wearing packed inside by police. There is her favourite sheep mug on the draining rack and parcels she had ordered for Christmas arriving in the post. She is absent, yet the house is full of her. We can think of nothing else and yet we forget. My father finds himself putting her towel to warm on the radiator for morning like he always does and nearly calls from the bottom of the stairs to ask if she wants tea before bed. I used to tune out sometimes when she chattered. Now I bend over her, listening raptly each time her lips move. 'Suffering' was the first word I heard h