by Mari Phillips
You didn’t notice me. Your mother was in the bed opposite mine and I guess we were both engrossed in our family tragedies. Mine was a stroke, and it was touch and go; that’s what the doctors said. “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Is that what they said to you?”
Both unconscious, wired up to machines and drips, all tubes and beeps, like noisy traffic lights at the crossroads of life. I sat and held her hand for hours and chatted as they tell you to do; sometimes whispered in her ear with a snippet I thought she would want to know. Her eyes didn’t flicker; her life trickling away, like a stream drying out in a hot summer. Days that felt like months.
You tried to do the same, but I watched you struggle and saw your frustration. Trying to chat to someone who didn’t respond; waiting for death; oblivious to the last fragments of life. You buzzed about, always tidying, fussing and checking, but I’m not sure you were really there. I sensed your pain but couldn’t help. When she died, and the doctor apologised, you cried but not for long.
“I have to get back to work,” you said.
I thought it strange that the breathing tube had slipped!