Flight (part 3)

One more visit to the hospice before my flight and I know this will be the hardest visit yet. I am borrowing our neighbour’s car because mine is back in England and we sold Mammy’s once she got too poorly to drive. It was an impulse decision which we clearly hadn’t thought about properly because it would have been very useful to have over the past month, a lot more useful than the two thousand euros that we got for it.

I load my gigantic backpack into the boot ready for Mary to take me to the airport after my visit and mentally prepare myself for one of the hardest goodbyes to date. Not one bit of me is feeling excited in this current moment. In fact, every bit of me is questioning whether this is the correct thing to be doing at such a helpless time. Then I hear Mammy in my ear telling me to go, spread my wings, find whatever it is I need in life and come back with lots of stories. I stop everything and smile for a minute.

I have done the journey to the hospice so many times that I don’t have to concentrate on the directions because I know the route off by heart. In fact, it scares me once I arrive in the car park and turn off the engine that I can’t remember half the journey as I was totally spaced out and unaware of my surroundings – my mind was elsewhere.

I carefully place my chip in my pocket and choke at the two-euro charge to park in a place where everybody is visiting somebody who is dying. It’s a lot better than the extortionate rates that they charge on the hospital side. I suppose you’re unaware in that case how long your relative will live so they may as well rinse you for as much as they possible can. It makes sense.

Mammy’s room is on the ground floor with a beautiful view of the bright yellow Wicklow gorse all in bloom outside in the courtyard. When she has fallen asleep during visits I have taking every pleasure in watching people walking around this space, savouring the last precious moments with one another. Be it husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, they all look content in a beautiful final scene.

I walk down the long corridor to room seven where Mammy is. A nurse squeezes out of the door quickly before I can get in. She must be new because otherwise she would have greeted me. We all know each other now because I have spent so many hours in here lately.

I look over to Mammy’s bed and see a sight I have been imagining but hoping would never actually happen. The whole room stops for a moment and all goes quiet inside my head. Perhaps Mammy has been moved to a different room.

I gasp in shock though it is the inevitable. It is real. A nurse runs to me in attempt to comfort me with a hug, but I want to go over to her. To touch her. To give her one last kiss and say my final goodbyes. Real goodbyes not temporary.

The staff respect my privacy and leave the room telling me to take my time and call them if there is anything that I need. I sit on the bed next to Mammy in a space that is as if she had planned my visit and left for me. I lean over to kiss her cheek and see Jenna’s body out cold on the floor, a needle in her wrist and marks on her neck – dead.  

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