It’s the best thing for him. You must insist. Intensive neuro rehab. Keep fighting for it. That’s what they all said – what they told me to do, so that’s what I did. Funding is difficult. Patchy. You have to fight. I am quite good at that kind of fighting. In the end we won. Lucky us.
It’s been more than a year since the rehab started, and in all the places - quite a few now - they do a three monthly review. Each one starts with a potted history and it’s like Chinese whispers. Each time they get it wrong in a different way. Each time I correct them.. Each time they ignore me. It doesn’t seem to matter that I was there. I know. I saw. I see it every time I close my eyes. I see it when I wake up in the middle of the night. I can see it now – clear as day. Every second.
Nearly two years now. It feels like yesterday and a thousand years ago. This is what I saw. This is what I see every day. August. Cold and rainy. Summer storms. Waking up, drinking my coffee, looking out at the wheat field, I’m .. I don’t know what I am. Nervous? It’s all been so quick. Last minute. I’ve spoken to friends who’ve done it, spoken to friends who’ve helped people through it. Read stuff on the internet. Each one says something different. The rehab place – the one he had an appointment at the day after – they reassured me. I said “it’s not dangerous is it – cold turkey? He is fifty…” “No” they said “…generally not. Not like alcohol withdrawal”. We only had one day – less than one day to get through before going there, registering. Then they would prescribe something – not methadone – something else, to help with the symptoms. Good old NHS. Lucky us.
The sky: beautiful in the very early morning. Dark, almost navy blue from the thunderstorms, and the ripe wheat glowing golden white in the sunrise. A wonderful contrast. Past the field. Just in the corner of my vision, along where the trees begin, a rainbow – fresh, bright, sharply defined, brand new – the way they are before they fade. I take a photo of it on my phone. I think I feel a bit like I did when my sons were young and they caught something horrible – chickenpox. Grit your teeth. Get on with it. It isn’t going to last forever. Batten down the hatches. All that kind of thing. We can get through this.
I send the rainbow to him – perhaps he’ll turn on his phone when he lands and it’ll be the first thing he sees. A good omen. Focus on the positive. Stiff upper lip. I have done my best. All the stuff he asked me to have is there. Stoly in the fridge. I bought it the night before and dropped the first one in the carpark at Waitrose – the recyclable carrier bags aren’t very strong. Glass everywhere, the stench of alcohol. I go back inside to tell them and it’s all handled efficiently and without fuss, as you would expect it to be. Someone comes out to sweep up the glass. They give me another bottle of Stoly. Good old Waitrose. Lucky it happened there.
The last time we spoke – before he left - He was frightened. Trying to not let it show. I was frightened – trying to sound reassuring. We can get through this. Face it together.
There’s no sun by the time I get to Heathrow. It’s a cold grey drizzly August morning. British summertime. I am wearing shorts and impractically high heels but it doesn’t matter because we’ll be jumping in the taxi soon and then we’ll be home. So it doesn’t matter. It’s part of my two fingers to the world. Meant to be reassuring for him. You should always wear impractical heels when you face something difficult.
Survival rates for cardiac arrest outside a hospital are officially dire – both here in England, and in Tucson. They hover around 17%. He is lucky. I am lucky. We are both lucky.
It’s been twenty months. I am on a writing retreat. Never done one before. Beautiful place. Never been here before. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. The other people couldn’t be nicer. It’s peaceful. Perfect. Beautiful. I’m so grateful for all of this. Each morning I sit down out here to write something to match. Maybe tomorrow.