(this is quite personal! Not work or self promotion at all. But I needed to write it because it’s one of those times when I really can’t deal with the chasm between my 3D life and my internet life, it’s killing me a little)
I went to see my Nanny this morning.
With a v talkative taxi driver and no bra because I rushed straight out of bed with my hair in doo doo plaits to get to Birmingham, dehydrated and headachey because none of us really want to eat and drink.
It was about half ten when I got to the hospital, and Nanny was sat in the chair beside the bed.
And it was so sunny and bright and quiet and peaceful. And warm.
And I knew something that she didn’t know yet, and I knew it would be the last time I saw her, before she knew. So it was a very precious privilege, to have an hour with her this morning in the sunlight. And I don’t want to forget it.
And I don’t want to forget very specific things:
I don’t want to forget how every nurse I met said that she was ‘lovely’ – that a nurse walked in and called her ‘lovely Isabella’.
I don’t want to forget us sitting eating bananas – mine opened from the top, her’s opened from the bottom, me complaining they were too green and Nanny telling me that that was the best way to eat them.
I don’t want to forget her feet in her slippers tapping on the floor along to the radio.
And I don’t want to forget the two of us sat together in silence with our eyes closed, just basking a little bit.
I don’t want to forget all of those details of what Nanny looked like – and how delicate – not fragile – but delicate she looked – what nightdress she was wearing, the two necklaces around her neck, her hair.
And I don’t want to forget Nanny telling me that Montserrat was “beautiful”, and filling the word with so much love and softness and excitement.
I don’t want to forget Nanny pulling a face at the soup and bread offered for lunch, in contrast to the sort of… what’s the word… you know the sort of ‘Mmmmmmm’ sound that you make when you’re talking about food you properly savour and relish? That, as a facial expression, when talking about the Saltfish, Okra, Rice and Peas one of my Aunties would bring for her later.
Or the really clear, sharp moment when Nanny looked at me and told me that she knew I wasn’t well, and that I was tired, and that I needed to prepare for next week. I asked if she wanted me to leave her, and she said – “you’re not leaving me, you’re going to do what you need to do, and then you’re going to rest”. I don’t want to forget how held I felt in that moment. An instruction given the way that only someone who knows you completely and has loved you your whole life can.
I am going to sea next week. I will be away for two months. I cannot afford to cut that trip short. Like, literally – I can’t afford it, every penny of my new baby company, all I’ve worked for the past four years is tied up in it, and a load of money donated by people – if something happens, I couldn’t fly back, because the money is not there, there is no way it could happen.
What if I come back and she is not here any more?
What if I come back and I have missed things I never could have imagined I would miss?
What if I come back, and she is still here, but not the person I ate bananas with this morning?
I think of my mum, and if I lost her, I think I would feel alone forever.
That’s the only language I have to express how I think I might feel in the place that my mum, my aunties and my uncles find themselves in.
My Mum, My Dad, My Nan and My Sister, are my world.
I love the work I do, I have friends I love fiercely. But fundamentally those are the four points of my compass, and my mum is North. And I look at my mum, and she tries to articulate how she feels.
And I can’t believe that I might not be here for the next two months.