by Rebecca Stonehill
‘What do you dream about?’ Lorna asks me as I take her hand and trace its grooves with my index finger.
She is smiling at me; a smile filled with tenderness and irony and, as I have felt on so many other occasions, it seems that our positions have been reversed.
‘I dream about you…and Bridget and Benny…and sometimes I am flying and sometimes I find myself in places I’ve never been before, but they fill me with happiness….What about you? What do you dream about?’
But she is no longer listening. Lorna has turned her head slightly on the pillow and her eyes, covered with film, gaze vacantly towards the window. The air smells of broccoli and bedsheets and my stomach starts to turn.
I look around the ward. All the beds are filled and there are a few other visitors here. But it is always the same people that are never visited. I wonder for a few moments whether this is because they have no family and friends, or if people are unable to cope with coming here. I sigh. At my age should I be worrying about these things? Lorna is my concern. I wish Bridget and Benny would visit her more often. I’m sure she’d recognise them occasionally.
She squeezes my hand, just a touch, and when I look back at her, I see that she is singing something, but I can barely hear the words. I lean closer and it takes several minutes before I realise that it is a song I used to sing to her and my other children, so many years ago. It is a nursery rhyme, one that she particularly loved as a little girl. She looks at peace with herself and the world and as I smooth her hair out of her eyes I think, You should not be here, Lorna. It should be me. It should be me.
She has fallen asleep. I rise to my feet with the help of my stick, and before I leave the room, steal one glance back at my daughter.
Rebecca Stonehill is from Cambridge but currently lives in Bangalore, India. She blogs about life there through her 2 year old daughter’s eyes: http://www.adventuringmaya.blogspot.com