Well it’s six months today since … (I still don’t want to say it).
I’ve just been to the cemetery where I pulled up some big weeds around the grave, and replaced the framed card I’ve put there (because it had got all dirty and faded in the sun), and I did what I hadn’t been keen to do – because it involved digging in the grave – I’ve set two vases half into the soil so they don’t topple over, and have put in them the £40 worth of artificial red roses I bought some time ago for the purpose. If they get stolen, I’ll just replace them. So it looks a little tidier now (like anyone but me sees it or knows or cares).
It’s a weekday morning so there was no-one there, as I’d hoped. After I’d finished I sat down on the ground next to it and thought/cried/talked. I’m glad I’ve had a cry because it’s worried me that I’ve not been crying much. The anti-depressants are obviously doing their job of keeping me from the depths of despair, but I’ve always been worried that means I’m not feeling what I might, or should, be feeling. I’ll come off them soon and see what happens.
As I sat there I couldn’t help but go over all the circumstances again, and particularly the ‘hospital period’. There were those one or two fleeting moments of consciousness where he responded with nods to my questions, and I can’t get over that in retrospect I made such a mistake… I made the wrong assumption that because he appeared to be more lucid, that state would now continue and he would improve, so I left the hospital all happy, thinking that on the next visit I would continue to ask yes/no questions, and communication would now be possible. I even went and bought a children’s writing/screen thing so he could write rather than talk.
But the point was, when I went back he was ‘gone’ again – not conscious/sedated/uncommunicative. So the message is, for anyone else experiencing such a situation, if a person suddenly/briefly becomes conscious, don’t assume it will continue or be repeated. THAT MAY BE YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO COMMUNICATE. So don’t miss it.
Although I was there every day for two months and was constantly talking to him, most of the time he wasn’t conscious so probably didn’t hear any of it. I regret that in those two moments when I asked a question and he nodded (‘Do you understand you’re in hospital?’ and later ‘Do we live in Croydon?’) – I didn’t make absolutely sure I said the right things. Maybe I did, I can’t remember. But I should have immediately said all the most important things, at those moments when he was most awake and might have heard them and understood – I love you, I’ve been visiting every day, everyone wants you to get better, I’m going to look after you when you’re recovering. I suppose if he had any real awareness he would have worked all that out, but when I think back I wonder if in those moments he wasn’t frustrated that I didn’t keep up the communication, that I didn’t say the things he would have wanted to hear.
I loved you John, and I came to visit you every day, and I hoped you’d get better.
And I wish I could be certain that you knew that.