Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The futile spectator

Diane, Mrs BB’s younger and only sister, bridesmaid at our wedding fifty-one years ago, died of cancer. I wrote a letter which her husband read aloud and I’m told she smiled. That should have pleased me, but didn’t. I’ve written all my adult life. Such a small matter.

More usefully, I drove Mrs BB the 230 miles from Hereford to Ashford so she could sit on a hospital bed, hold Diane’s hand and talk for an hour about tiny familiar things. I sat further down the bed and spoke only briefly. I mentioned the name, Jana, I’d chosen six months ago for my novel. Told her I’d recently checked its roots and discovered it was a corruption of Diana, hence, Diane. As I kissed her goodbye I said clumsily, “Remember Jana.” She said she’d bear it in mind.

Otherwise I observed. On intense occasions it’s often the detail that counts. I learned that hospices are usually full and that the dying must qualify for admission. Learned that someone in pain can administer their own morphine via a syringe which feeds into the drip. Noticed that bedpans are now disposable and are made from a sort of papier maché.

My French teacher, a Quaker, does voluntary work at a hospice. She told me, “The dying is all right, I can assure you.” Meaning that the transition, as viewed by those standing by, lacks horror. And as far as they can tell the person they are losing is not suffering.

This post is intentionally about me, not about Diane; about being near someone who is dying. Trying to strip away confused instincts and imagined obligations, touching here and there on the reality. Some time, not now, I’ll write Diane some verse.