And then there are the disconnections. Doing some training last night and as we were leaving and I was negotiating some tricky stairs, a lovely man I hadn’t seen in ages asked me how Mum was.
For a moment the whole world went into slow motion. I wanted to get down the stairs safely and couldn’t remember how much he knew of my current situation. I told him she was in a nursing home now as I can’t look after her anymore and he was duly sympathetic and said that must be hard. Things made more difficult by the other two people with us who do know of my situation and clearly felt awkward, nonplussed and not sure what to do.
The evening had been a great success and suddenly this lovely man, through no fault of his own, had stuck a knife in my heart, all the more painful for being unexpected. I was hurtled back to the pain of the whole Mum scenario, but didn’t want to blurt out the news about my current illness, though also odd not to do so. I didn’t want to have to deal with his reactions, as he was only innocently asking about Mum.
Then I remembered Mum’s reaction when she went to a posh do and someone asked after my Dad, who’d been dead for some time. She went to that same slow motion world, deciding it would be terrible to tell the man he was dead, as he would feel awful. So she said, ‘he’s fine’ which she believed he was in heaven.
I tried to be as gracious as Mum, but it felt as though I was abrupt and awkward with someone who only had the best intentions. The last time I saw him, I was living my old life, here I am living a completely different life, yet it seems on the outside I can still pass as living my old life. That’s the really painful disconnect.