Making Peace

As the name implies this is primarily a place to share photographs and stories of taking them. Sometimes, though, I take myself off on a tangent, I hope you'll indulge me. Last Thursday night I arrived home, pretty excited to be heading off with my friends for a weekend away the next morning. Excitement was short lived though as my sister fed me the news that my aunt had been rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

We quickly cleared out with my mum in tow and raced to the hospital, where the last we knew she was still in accident & emergency. On arriving a nurse, on hearing my aunt’s name, ushered us straight through to the high dependency unit where she had been moved. The haste and complicity with which the nurse acted, while appreciated, wasn’t particularly reassuring and only added to the imbibing fear.

My mum was stifling tears with some success; my sister was stoic in appearance but was clearly struggling. In these situations I always feel obligated to keep a stone face, to try and be reassuring but sometimes it’s pretty difficult.

When my sister and I were eventually allowed in to the bedside I was…to be honest I’m not quite sure. It was a blur. In retrospect the overpowering emotion was fear. I couldn’t describe in words how she looked, but when I saw her I took her hand and without being consciously aware of doing it, began the process of saying goodbye. We were only there for a few minutes, but it was enough to see recognition on her face, and she even managed a smile as we were leaving, which, I hoped, was a glimmer of encouragement.

Sitting in the ward’s ‘relative room’ there was a hushed silence. Occasional attempts to break the silence, to break the mood, went unanswered. Waiting for the doctor it was only then I realised how many hours had passed. These situations have the uncanny ability of making time stand still while the hands of the clock gather speed.

When the doctor spoke to us it wasn’t with positive news as we had hoped rather than expected. If her heart failed in the night, she wouldn’t be strong enough to survive resuscitation. Wait and see, the medication might work. Nothing more to do, no more to say. The doctor left and the repressed tears began to fall. We had another opportunity to see her before we left, to say goodbye, or see you soon?

We drove home in silence, there was nothing to say, all energy was focussed on hope; that she would make it through the night.

Thankfully, news from the hospital in the early hours was positive, although she had suffered serious heart failure as a result of receiving too many units of blood, she had responded well to the quick action of the hospital staff. I was back in the hospital a couple of days later, the difference, in appearance at least, was remarkable. The grey lady that had looked to be on the doorstep was chatty, sitting up, laughing and smiling. Her first words to me were “I’m not well at all Euan”.

She’s still there, still improving, slowly, but thankfully the Thursday night goodbye was just a ‘see you soon’.