Glimpses, Part 1

‘Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.’ – Oscar Wilde

It is a clear, bright day, the sky blue with the slightest smattering of cirrus. There is a nip in the air. A blackbird flirts its song between the sparse-limbed trees, which loom like skeletons. I ponder the coming of Spring; the freshness of the breeze tousling my hair as I meander through woodland paths, smattered with bluebells and ‘a host of golden daffodils’.

I cradle my steaming coffee as I dawdle away time, revelling in the past. There is an old pile of photographs on the table, a cornucopia of memories; fleeting glimpses of moments in my life when I felt something more than I feel now. I let my fingers brush

across a face beaming out of the photograph I now hold. It was the last one I ever took of my husband, John. Tears well in my eyes. I am drowning in a memory so powerful that I feel I will choke on my heart.

I remember clearly. He was sitting on his bed in the hospital in Newcastle, awaiting a heart transplant. A handsome man with sparkling topaz eyes and an endearing smile. He was the bravest person I had ever known, and the pain he had physically endured was lesser than the pain of losing his son. But that day, I think he knew. Tears slipped down his cheeks, as his body shook from fear. I slipped my hand beneath his cold, wizened fingers, and gathered up my strength. Being given a new heart was both a promise and a question.

‘It’s a new start, darling,’ I said.

‘I know, but I am so scared,’ he stuttered.

One week later, people loitered, mingling, and eating stale vol au vents. We were reflecting on what a great guy my grandfather was. He had died, aged 92, a lonely man by choice. He hadn’t wanted a fancy funeral, but you cannot say goodbye with a full stop at the end of an empty sentence. I had always been the dependable one. A bit eccentric, but reliable. Everything had been organised down to a tee, with the voice of his beloved Vera Lynne waving him off into the cremation fires. I heard the shrill tone of my mobile phone.

‘Hello?’

‘Mrs Drury? It’s the ward sister from the Freeman hospital. I’m afraid you need to come quickly. John had a haemorrhage and is really very poorly.’

I was in Hull, a four-hour train journey from my husband’s hospital in Newcastle. I had to hastily make my apologies, leave the funeral, and rush to the station. I was praying it wasn’t too late. We needed a miracle. John had cheated death so many times.

The train journey seemed infinite. Each clackety-clack of the wheels on the endless track marked off the seconds of his existence. The nearer I got to Newcastle, the further away it seemed.

When I walked into the ICU, a cacophony of bleeping machines was keeping my husband alive. He looked like a sleeping cadaver, white, motionless, and punctured with needles and tubes. His flesh was a canvas of blue, green, and purple. I knew he was a ghost, no longer here. A lone nurse gazed at me, with sorrow. I felt his empathy.

‘Are you ready, Mrs Drury?’ he whispered, gently.

‘Yes,’ I choked. I sat beside John, cherishing this last moment together. Love was infused in memories playing in my mind. The nurse flicked the switch, and my husband’s heart stopped. The silence was the loudest sound I had ever heard.

The Angels Took Your Last Breath

My husband was in the Freeman Hospital waiting for a heart transplant. The days and hours I sat by his bedside, hope in my heart, waiting for a miracle…

The Angels Took Your Last Breath

I sit here
Your still hand in my hand of warmth and hope
And wish that I could feel a movement
A random twitch
A palm around my warm blooded hand
I sit here like an ostrich, hopes in unrealistic dreams
Burying my head in the sand
Wishing for days away, in the car, music blaring on the radio
Blasting out our favourite band
Sharing our joy and passion,
Carefree, equinamity,
And

I sit here
Bleep bleep
Alarming sounds
Nurses do their rounds
My heart thumps, my head pounds
It was my last reserve but I found
Strength in adversity
This bed so high tech
Machines calling all the shots
Taking your precious breath
And for all the dreams about death
I cling to my last thread of knowing you are somewhere
Out of your broken body
Maybe watching over me
Maybe you can see
My devotion
Maybe this was meant to be

And the stars aligned
A universe, a spiritual decree
Maybe you are far away
Maybe I will never get you back
For you are too far gone to stay
The days of joy, the days that we would lay
On rumpled sheets
Smiles on our blissful faces
All I want to do is play
Is play
With you
But now the thing I have to do

Is sit here
God try and get me through
This unknowing
This clinging onto maybe you’ll get well
Amidst the machines and tubes and wires
Amidst this technological death knell
And I love you so much
I long for your touch
On my face
A stroke of the palm
A never ending embrace
And I love you
But this feels like a race
And we are coming last

I sit here
Nurses telling me its time
You’re not here
Your heart was your final crime
And I sit amid the sorrow
The alarms which bleep, the monitors which chime
And then silence
A breath stolen from a beautiful man
A heartbeat that I never again can
Feel
Warmth drifts slowly away
Welcomed by the bitter cold of death
I’ll never forget when the machine took your last breath.
And I hold your hand
I take in your face
I cannot bear to take a huge embrace
We lost my darling,
We lost the race of life
And now a widow
But forever your loving wife
Forever your loving wife.

©2020 Sarah Drury

The Last Moment

Your hand in my hand
Like a reticent child putting on
Winter mittens
Made of old, weathered parchment.
Sitting here
Dying here
In this soulless intensive care department
As the sorrow cries
And tears so hot they’re dry
And fragile remnants of hope die
And like a bird
I want to fly
Far away
From here.
From here.

Is that your heart I hear?
Or is it some medical mechanism
I don’t know what’s louder
the life support technology
or the sterile lack of humanism.
But your hand is in my hand
You are mine
This cameo moment in time
This desperation on a lifeline
All those times I thought we’d be fine.
All those times
And we’re not, now.

But here we are
Saying our last goodbyes
The windows to your soul
Are sleeping, peaceful, closed
The eyes so blue
That used to shine in a brilliant, sapphire hue.
Do you dream, my darling?
Is your world filled with timeless memories?
Fleeting whispers of the things we used to do.
Or am I dreaming?
Am i holding onto you
When I know your soul is ready
drifting down the final avenue
drifting
drifting

So goodbye darling
I will let you go
Goodbye darling
Its time now
I know
I know
I know.

©2019 Sarah Drury