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End times

So the book launch went very well. The nurses were lenient, people bought books, some of Mark's poetry was read out, we all applauded and toasted his success, and poured champagne for everyone except him. Then the best thing of all happened; some of my friends may know Michael B, famous as a wild-haired thesp with a taste for blingy frocks and all things Greek. Fewer have seen him as we did then, a nurse with considerable expertise having cared for so many, including his own father through terminal illness. With confidence and strength he lifted the patients head, and wiped Mark's mouth with a little champagne on a sponge. Mark sucked it with what can only be described as avid aptitude. Then, very gently, Michael applied a beaker of champagne to Mark's lips. He swallowed, no choking, no problem. 'Oh, that's good!' He burst out. It was the first thing like a sentence any of us had heard from Mark in a while. He couldn't have any more - some of our group were already hiding in the toilet, fearing accessory to manslaughter charges - but he was very happy. It was wonderful. Daft Bint, for all her faults, was tender and sweet with him. She took photos of the group around the bed, which I don't like and actually don't understand at all, but it seemed wrong to make a fuss at that point so I left it.

Elvis Diary lives near the hospice. I stayed at her place because I was wearing my engagement ring and didn't fancy attention of the Lewisham Late kind. Yesterday morning I was going home, and decided to pop in see Mark for half an hour...I ended up staying there til 6 this morning. He couldn't speak, but I read his story to him, and friends came round to talk...as the night went on,one friend stayed til 10 pm, making tea and just chatting, ordinary life, ordinary voices.

Why did I stay? It's just this thing remaining about night horrors and morphine, those fears that had troubled him in the hospital and at home. There was no evidence of that at all. Occasionally he seemed agitated, and stirred, and every time he opened his eyes he saw me there. I kept announcing myself in case he couldn't see me, beginning to remind myself of LeClerc from Allo Allo. He must be sick of the sight - and sound - of me. They brought me supper and a bed, duvet, blankets all that, but I wasn't there to sleep, just to be there for any moment he needed company. I don't think he is there very much. He couldn't talk anymore, or even really squeeze my hand for 'Yes' or 'No.' The champagne moment was some kind of Michael miracle.

At one point during the witching hour, when the nurses were checking Mark, I thought to take advantage and go walking in the cool of the garden. I wandered off for a couple of minutes, until some faintly surprised faces at windows reminded me that wandering around the hospice gardens at midnight with a white blanket on my shoulders might not be entirely appropriate.

The dawn was beautiful, bird-glorious and pink clouded, breeze and light through the open french windows. It had been a cold night, but he seemed to prefer everything open, maybe the temperature was Normal For Cleethorpes. When the light came it was splendid. I left after the nurses appeared to look after him in the morning; though they had showers there, I had to come away home. In the same clothes for 48 hours I was becoming a health hazard myself. I held his head in my hands and told him that I hoped to be back at the end of the week, that this was goodbye but not some shit permanent goodbye...I would see him again soon. And his eyes looked into mine, and I did not have a single clue if he had understood me. So I turned to go, heard a hoarse noise and looked back.

'G'bye.' He said.

Time now to stop writing.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
romney
Jun. 24th, 2015 05:38 pm (UTC)
Amen.
nyarbaggytep
Jun. 24th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so poignant.
yapman
Jun. 25th, 2015 12:11 am (UTC)
Completely. I don't know if it's helping you, but I'm loving these entries.Incredibly moving stuff.
smokingboot
Jun. 25th, 2015 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you all
So glad that you have been here X
november_girl
Jun. 25th, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC)
I think it was last week he sounded Byronic. This week his having all his windows open whilst very ill makes me think of Cathy Earnshaw. I don't know him, but he is clearly channelling great literature.

You're being so strong.
x
smokingboot
Jun. 27th, 2015 08:54 am (UTC)
From Byron to Earnshaw
He would love that! The whole open windows thing troubled me because he got so cold at night, except his hands, but the nurses said he was adamant, so all we could do was put more blankets on him. It might even have been because he became aware of his body breaking down...nothing to be ashamed of, it's what bodies do, but he is a very proud guy and the nurses told me so Q lots of essential oil, air as fresh as the arctic blasts of Cleethorpes, and a fine big bouquet of lilies. And as a literary creature, he would love the symbolism of open doors and windows, especially leading out into a beautiful summer garden...

Thank you for your words, they are very generous. It doesn't feel like strength, it feels, I don't know, like just the thing we do. The real strength is in these hospice workers, who work so hard to maintain the dignity and comfort and happiness of their patients. Their compassion and care is humbling to see.

Edited at 2015-06-27 06:12 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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