The summer holidays come to a close. The time has been divided into a happy half spent in Cornwall, catching glimpses of sunshine, seeing people who are important to us, clambering down to inaccessible beaches and sloshing through puddles. But these past few weeks have been dominated by a friend's accident. One of those important people. Though I am thousands of miles away, in my mind I have walked the hospital ward. I know the parking lot, full of hot cars, ticking in the sunshine. I see the blue signs directing patients and visitors. I see the nurses. One is especially tall with a brown bob, her eyes the colour of her overalls. I know the waiting room, the curved plastic chairs, the frosted glass along one wall, the magazines that have come loose from their staples. I know the ICU. I see my friend there, sitting by her husband's side, as he sleeps, among the tubes and the IV bags and the machinery that is helping him survive. I see the line of staples across the right side of his shaven head. I have seen his children brought into his room, the nurse explaining the tubes and letting them play with the stethoscope and even sit in the swing chair. She lets them trace the shape of their father's hand to take away with them. I see the doctors looking serious and urgent but benign. This used to be his ward. What are the chances? The intensive care consultant, now consulted upon. There is a picture of him in the bathroom, smiling with his palms out, reminding you to wash your hands. A bike accident. A split second that has twisted time and lives and futures. It has been hard to think of anything else.
We went for a walk the other day with the promise of pancakes and sausages at a mountain lodge 2 miles up the hill. It was so hot, even at ten in the morning, and by the time we were walking back there wasn't even a thin sliver of shade from the trees on the trail. Last week we picked blackberries and made our first ever pot of sweet pippy jam. I have kept myself busy making a 'keyhole garden' and reupholstering a chair that we found flung out on the street. Planning playdates for the kids, getting ready for school. But they are all distractions. My heart is in the Intensive Care Unit at Dereford Hospital, willing a friend to heal.