Ray Of Hope

Not so long ago, I was the chat­ter­box. Now lis­ten­ing to inane chat and my hus­band’s snores is all I can do… or is it?

My Weekly - - Contents - By Linda Hur­d­well

Love and de­vo­tion al­ways pays div­i­dends

My eyes sur­vey ev­ery­thing, good and bad, notic­ing even small moles on a per­son’s face or fine hairs near the mouth, faded scars. I see ev­ery­thing; damp patches, dark cracks in the walls, ev­ery­thing.

It is lunch time and I watch her bring my lunch, plonk­ing it on the tray; just a young girl with such large brown eyes, wear­ing the nurse’s uni­form. She ap­pears too young to be in con­trol of sick peo­ple.

“Here you are, love,” she chirps, plac­ing the plate about two inches away from where my arms reach. With a great deal of ef­fort, I at­tempt to lean for­ward, but am just not able to move my arms near enough to the plate, which con­tains an at­trac­tive hot meal.

“Damn.” I silently curse, and, de­feated, lean back to wait for some­one to come and help me. This din­ner will no doubt be cold by then.

I stare out of the ad­ja­cent win­dow and watch the rain pour down on the world. It’s bleak, and en­cour­ages drea­ri­ness. I watch drips plop onto a nearby wall.

He will be drenched if he comes in this down­pour. Per­haps he won’t bother to­day. He never says any­thing much any­way, just sits and sighs. Yet I know if he doesn’t visit, I may weep.

We have been mar­ried for forty years. I am used to him and he is used to me. I wish he would think to bring pen and pa­per just so I could try to write down some ques­tions. If only I could tell him. I shake with frus­tra­tion.

How is the dog? Is he eat­ing prop­erly –Stan, not the dog? When are the boys com­ing to see me again? Will Dan bring the new baby?

I have only seen my lit­tle grand­daugh­ter once, they call her Patsy – dear lit­tle thing. She won’t be scared of me like this, I hope. I re­call her bright blue eyes and soft brown hair, long­ing to feel her baby skin next to mine.

I hear, be­fore I see, the heavy foot­steps of the kind lady who is in the main ward. “Legs”, I call her, be­cause her legs are ab­so­lutely enor­mous com­pared to the rest of her small frame, but she has the loveli­est smile. She al­most al­ways knows when they leave my din­ner too far away. I at­tempt a smile as she sits be­side me. I wish I knew her name.

“There, dear – let’s see about this lunch. I hope it hasn’t got too cold.”

I look into her clear grey eyes and try very hard to speak. “Urggh.”

She nods and pats my hand be­fore start­ing to feed me luke­warm steak and kid­ney pie.

“It’s rain­ing cats and dogs, my dear,” Legs is telling me. “Maybe we are bet­ter off in here in the warm, and that’s a fact.” I watch her walk back to her own bed, her mas­sive legs find­ing it dif­fi­cult to move. I won­der what is wrong with her. If only I could ask.

The ward door opens and Stan stum­bles through. He shakes his wet um­brella onto the floor be­fore tak­ing off his rain­coat and sink­ing into the chair be­side my bed. He looks at me then looks away.

“Teem­ing with rain,” he mum­bles, then, “By, it’s a cold one – cold and wet.” He yawns, as if those few words have worn him out, but con­tin­ues, “The dog misses you. Sleeps on your pil­low.”

Now he folds him­self down in the chair even fur­ther. I no­tice how tired and grey he looks.

Fee­bly I lift one arm to try and wipe the tears form­ing in my eyes, but as usual, don’t quite make it.

He just sits and SIGHS. Yet if he DOESN’T VISIT I know I may WEEP

This is so frus­trat­ing. Stan and I stare at each other. I am usu­ally the chat­ter­box, and Stan is more the strong, silent type.

“The boys will be com­ing this week­end. They phone each evening. By ’eck, wish I could have a smoke in here.”

He is walk­ing across to the win­dow, briefly touch­ing my saggy cheek as he passes the bed. I yearn to grab his hand and hold it to me.

Stan re­turns and sinks back into the chair, just as the tea lady ar­rives. She hands me my cup and straw and leaves one for Stan. I am pleased about that, be­cause he looks as if he could do with a nice hot drink.

He yawns again. Doesn’t he sleep prop­erly? I sup­pose he is wor­ried about me. I am wor­ried about me – I want to re­turn to nor­mal, want to walk and feel fresh air on my face, even tor­ren­tial rain like to­day, want to be able to wash my­self and to speak again. How I loved gos­sip­ing. Now things are left un­said.

Iwatch Stan drink his tea, and then be­fore you can say “Jack Robin­son,” his head has lulled for­ward and he has fallen asleep. I hurt from silent laugh­ter as I know that any minute now, a great loud snore will erupt.

My own mouth opens into a gri­mace that should be a grin, and I think that per­haps my body has for­got­ten how to smile. Stan’s eye­lids are twitch­ing and his mouth drops open. He is look­ing his age, what with his bald head and hairy ears. When we were mar­ried, oh so many years ago, he was so hand­some.

But then he mar­ried a very pretty blonde laugh­ing girl – and look at me now! Yet, in­side I am still me.

I lie in my bed lis­ten­ing to his mo­not­o­nous drone, wait­ing for the oc­ca­sional loud erup­tion. Sure enough here it comes, and im­me­di­ately two nurses peer into my room from the main cor­ri­dor, won­der­ing for a mo­ment what that loud noise might be.

I wish I could gig­gle. Yet for me, it is rather a com­fort­ing sound. A sound that gives me hope that one day soon, with de­ter­mi­na­tion, I will re­turn home.

Sud­denly the rain stops and I no­tice through the win­dow, a faint rain­bow peer­ing down, push­ing its way through the heavy grey clouds.

“Look, Stan – a rain­bow.”

His eyes fly open and we stare at each other, stunned. Did he hear my words? Did I speak? “Did you say some­thing, He­len?” My mind is leap­ing about ex­cit­edly. I see a sud­den look of hope in my hus­band’s eyes. “Did you?” he de­mands. I man­age a nod. Oh joy, and my mouth at last re­mem­bers how to smile!

I want to re­turn to NOR­MAL, to feel fresh air on my face – even RAIN

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