I’ve had enough of hospitals. Waiting, wondering, hoping, fearing. Staring at walls in various shades of white, surrounded by people in scrubs who are all hurrying to be somewhere else. Steeping in the tension and quietness of suspense, strongly brewed.
I’d like to be somewhere else. Of course, I have preferences, but I wouldn’t be too choosy about a change of locale right now. Perhaps not jail, though.
Yet I am held here by forces stronger than my desire to be gone: an eclectic mix of fear, grief, loyalty, duty and belonging, amongst which the balance of power alternates at a sometimes giddy rate.
I belong here with the family, yet I know it’s different for me. I’m the only in-law here, but he’s my dad too. I’m still as afraid as they are.
I know what it’s like to lose a parent, to say goodbye that last time while still not wanting them to go at all. The others don’t know that yet. I think they all realise, though, that whether he lives or dies, they will never be the same again.
They’re blessed to be here together. When my mum died, it was just her and me. My sisters and brother couldn’t get there in time, although they desperately wanted to. It was me who watched and waited and wept in that quiet room. I sang her hymns and prayed with her. She held my hand, even though she was not conscious, and even though she had long forgotten who I was, I knew something buried deep inside her remembered me. How I longed for my siblings then. It was unfair for all of us. I had to do it on my own, but I had precious, awful time with her that they did not.
I thought about that day a lot yesterday when I knew the others were together. I’m glad they can keep each other strong. I’m glad I am here with them today.
The ominous, helpless heaviness of waiting has wrapped its dreadful cloak around us. There is nothing to be done except remain there.