There’s something so cathartic about putting fingers to the keyboard and using this platform I call my blog as somewhere to offload. Amongst the lipstick, the pretty dresses and the taboo topics, it’s sometimes necessary to strip everything back and just let words flow. It’s not something that comes particularly easy to me nowadays and it may look odd nestled amongst the reviews and the roundups, but I often find myself wanting to just write. To set myself up at my desk and do some Eat, Pray, Love think piece but often I find that this content balance of home and work life I’ve found lately makes for less interesting reading than melancholy and as with all great art, it’s mostly in times of darkness and reflection that true masterpieces are made. This is no masterpiece, I apologise. In fact, if you’re reading this then this is one of the many posts in my draft folder that have finally managed to see the cold light of day after I’ve lost my way somewhere in the middle of writing or I’ve found myself scrambling for a close or even a point. I’ve had a bit of a rubbish week though, the foundations of the contentedness have been shaken and I find myself here, writing because I am one of the many who find comfort in words.
Let me tell you a story.
Thursday evening after work I sat in the hospital. At 78 years old my nan sat opposite me, floral nightgown, fluffy dressing gown and slippers. Confused from a virus and diagnosis of pneumonia, she looked exhausted and for the first time in a long time she didn’t just look like my nan, she looked frail and I faltered. As I watched her try to catch her breath before she spoke, the resilient smile of someone always the first to crack a joke in a bid to lighten the mood dropped and I felt the that stinging sensation of tears in my eyes. It was only for a second, a quick blink of the eyes, a sniffle and incognito dab of the eyes (my tear combating trick I’d perfected after watching one too many heart wrenching movies) successfully hid my sadness. In the next moment I was back, asking her if she wanted me to comb her hair, telling her I could make her look like Farrah Fawcett, anything to garner a laugh or put a smile back on her face.
At 6:45 a man entered the ward, took a blue plastic chair and took up position at the bed next to us.
“Hello mum” he said, he leaned over and kissed the head of the lady lay in the bed next to us.
“How are you?” he asked. No reply. He stroked her hair, adjusted the collar of his shirt and slackened his tie before he sitting back in the chair. He began to talk.
He spoke about work, how often he’d been swimming that week, how many miles he’d ran, how he’d swam before he took the children to school and how he’d taken the children to a birthday party that weekend, they loved it he said. They came home over excitable and high on e numbers he thought, he chuckled. She didn’t. He told her what he was making for tea, he was starving he said, it’s getting cold outside, really nippy, you can tell it’s almost December. Won’t be long until there’s snow or until it’s Christmas. The children are really excited about Christmas. Hopefully you’ll be out before then mum.
“Are you okay mum?” he then asked and I could only just make out what he said afterwards. “Blink once for yes, twice for no”.
It broke my heart.
He told her that Francesca would be up the next day to see her after her operation, you’ll be fine, I’ll ring the hospital as well to make sure you’re okay. I won’t be able to come up, I have to get the children from school but I’ll be up over the weekend hopefully, would you like that? There was a pause.
“Good” he said.
He sat in silence for a few moments, stroked her hand and then stood up, placed the blue plastic chair back on the pile in the center of the room, put on his jacket, kissed the lady on the head and said goodbye.
Not long after he left, we did too. I told my nan that she’d better eat all of her chocolate or I’d be back to finish it off and that she ought to make the most of being waited on hand and foot whilst in the hospital. Again she laughed and I felt my heart skip with happiness at being able to put a smile on her face. As we passed her bed, I sneaked a look at the lady in the bed next to us, she lay with glazed eyes and a vacant stare and again my heart broke for her. Not from pity, but sadness.
“I don’t know if she always registers what I’m saying, sometimes I wonder if she even hears me at all but I like to come by just to talk to her and tell her about my day” I’d heard the son say to a nurse. As I left it made me think how in that one hour how important words had been between the man and his mum and between myself and my nan.
There’s a simple comfort in words that can’t be found in materialistic things, not the cosiest PJ’s or the warmest of blankets (or copious Hot Toddys). Words can be reassuring, magical, inspiring, awe inspiring, they can make you feel on top of the world or like you can do anything. They’re in your favourite books, your favourite songs, written in letters, texts.
That lady made me think about how we often take words for granted. As easily as words can be used for good, they can just as easily words can often be the cause of hurt, pain, upset and making people feel inferior, insecure or small. It’s imperative that we use our words with the up most intention because someday we may no longer have them or we’ll regret not using them to our advantage when we had the opportunity.
Just a few words about words.