I stood in the car port waiting for your hand on the handle. Through the blur of glass, I could see your chair-lift slowly descend knowing your legs couldn’t reciprocate their desire to run and see me. You greeted me with the warmest smile and a loud hello in your Irish accent making all the cold bones that structure me feel heat. I slowly pushed myself up the stairs ensuring you didn’t feel left behind whilst we exchange our recent news. Your home was warm, pleasantly cosy and comfortable. It wasn’t because your love of the heating being on for 12 months of the year but it was because you filled me with heat. Everywhere smelt faintly of your home-cooked meals and as you brushed past me your Lancôme perfume comforted me. As we walk into the living room, the green carpet was lit by your four gold art-deco lamps that were spotted around the room on the mahogany cabinet and desks. I then walked into the kitchen from the living room and made us tea while you ambled your way to your chair. To all the family it resembled a throne, it stood alone and didn’t match any of the rest of your aqua blue settee suite.
Shouting from kitchen to living room, we laughed and exchanged jokes. Your tea cups were petite and lady-like, each one florally decorated. Every tea was a strong earl grey. The smell enriching my young being. I walked across your black and white chequered laminate flooring and opened your cupboard to scramble within the biscuit tin. I took more than I should but that didn’t matter there. Nothing like that ever did. Before coming into you in the open living room I stuffed a few more in my mouth, feeling high on my greed. You had the fire on and were reading The Weekend Magazine ensuring that you had the right channel on for us to watch The X Factor. Before it began I ran up the stairs, putting my bag on the fluffy purple carpet and arranged my overnight belongings on my bed side table; my magazine, notebook and jewellery all laid out for our day out the following day. I throwed on my pyjamas as you shouted on me as the show had started. We sat and appreciated the music, laughing at the attempts of singing and the judge’s reactions. Nothing I ever did felt embarrassing in front of you. I spoke to you during the adverts about my problems from that day; the boys that didn’t reciprocate, the fights between my brothers and I. The words that followed calmed my worries and left me feel better within a few short minutes.
After the harmonious singing finished we cleaned the living room of its tea cups and chocolate wrappers. Curtains closed, lights off, doors closed. I walked up the stairs being followed by the hum of your machine. As you gradually get ready for bed, I brushed my teeth and assess my angry teenage skin. Once I finished my analysis I walked to your bedroom and gradually opened your door to see you lying in bed. Another art deco lamp placed on your bedside table lit the prayer book in your hands. I walked in and placed myself on the edge of your bed. I complained about my skin and all my insecurities oozed out once more and all you had to say to me in your Irish tone was that I was beautiful. That my complexion would improve but it didn’t matter as I was beautiful. I squeezed your hand in appreciation. Then, we spoke the prayer you taught me: “infant Jesus meek and mild, look on me a little child…” After we finished the prayer I stood up and kissed you on the forehead and said “I love you.”
As I walked to my room that Saturday night like all the others I had spent at yours I thought of nothing but the fear of losing you.
Two months later I sat in front of you in the small section of the small ward in Glasgow’s Old Victoria Hospital. Everywhere smelt of disinfectant. It was rotten. The green laminate floor was lit by yellow fluorescent beams.
“How are you?” I asked.
You just smiled.
I knew but everyone else remained blissfully unaware.
My mother puffed your pillows then brought out the hand cream I had bought you that Christmas and gave you a hand massage. Our attempts to heal you from pain were so desperate and full of hope. I handed my mother my gloves as she moaned about how cold your hands were even after them being smothered by my mother’s warmth. As the visiting hours disappeared my father, brother and I all left you. My mother still chattered away about what you’d be doing the following week. Before I left the brightly lit ward, I turned and looked at you. Your hands were still placed in my gloves as you lifted one while you attempted to wave. I waved back, my throat clogged in despair. As I turned away you smiled and mouthed the word:
Forever missing you, your hand in my hand and your faith in me.
Article by Charlotte Dean