Long before the end there was a feeling of things being over. And I don't do much with my time although I have plenty. Time spinning out thin as nerves.
In the bed, she has none.
(more) They come in and move her every few hours, still. Palliative busywork. We're all waiting.
Meanwhile the hosiptal routine going on outside the door. Small town hospitals like this, they can still manage a private room for this part, after they've done everything they can on the ward.
Another sort of waiting room. And very peaceful it is, with cream walls, not institutional white, and a frost-sleeping garden outside the glass doors. The branches are just pricked with green in these late March days.
Most of the time I sit beside the bed, go look at the canary in the lounge when I need to stretch my legs. There's digestive biscuits in the cupboard when I'm hungry. Off-and-on sipping a cold biting brew of hospital coffee & vodka, in the big plastic mugs they have. Pretty shameless, pretty crass, but without a fog to hide in, I don't know where my heart would go.
I'd always heard that hospitals smelled like death but the thing is death doesn't even smell like death anymore, not when it is supervised and monitored like this. It smells astringent yet sweet. It smells like floor polish, cold coffee, damp tissues sitting in the wastebasket, the faint cherry-ish odour of the glycerin swabs for her lips now that she can't swallow water.
The green of the leaf buds seems taunting. As if there is a race on. If she could only last until spring - she would be OK. Why do I think this? Warm weather is sustaining weather, reaching out to hold us fast. Some promise in it.(less)
"M-made a mistake, huh?" Niko swirled the dregs of his coffee around the bottom of the borrowed mug.
"What was that?" Ari looked up from his piece of buttered toast, all wide eyes and innocence.
(more) If he was no help or comfort in this set of circumstances, it wasn't because he purposely meant to be awkward or unkind. Niko was sure he would have been no better if their positions had been reversed (he was even less socially adept- Ari at least managed friendly).
When his companion proved less than forthcoming, Ari tried the most neutral tack that came to mind, "Would you care for another cup of coffee?"
"No thanks." Ari's hospitality couldn't be faulted, but he just wasn't... What idea was he grasping at here? That he wasn't sympathetic enough? That they weren't as alike as he had previously supposed and, as such, couldn't understand him the way he wanted to be understood?
"I'm glad to see you out and about," Ari struggled to play the part of a good host against Niko's brooding silence, "I mean, it's the first time since Cat... Well, we were worried about you."
Yes, he had chosen the wrong source of solace. He should have waited longer for a chance to speak alone with Lily, should have searched harder to catch Suzanna before she left town with her troop... "Aah, thanks."
"Is it just me, or have you improved a little bit upon that stammer? It seems to have tapered off to some degree."
"I think the shock snapped it right out of him," John swaggered into the apartment with Lily on his arm.
As soon as she caught sight of Niko, Lily let go of John and rushed up to him, "How are you doing?"