Saturday, 11 April 2015

Only The Lonely

Back in the olden days when my children were children and i hennaed my hair for fun not out of vanity to hide the grey, i would walk my boys to school every morning and back in the afternoon.    the houses on the estate we lived in had huge picture windows front and back, floor to ceiling.   it was a nightmare to heat but gave a wonderful view of the gardens and the room would be full of light no matter the weather.    i loved how in winter the snow would pile up against the glass and create a sensation of being under water, our lounge became a goldfish bowl for a short while and we would pretend to be fishies and talk in bubble & speak.

In one particular house we passed there was a lady in a wheelchair who would always be sitting there, at the window, watching.    what she was watching or waiting for i never discovered, perhaps she thought if she stared long enough she could catch death before he caught her.

After a few weeks of half waving a hand as we passed she waved back.   there followed another few weeks of waving and smiling and miming "going to school", or "off to play football",  which wasn't often as i'm not sure who hated footie the most the boys or me.    then out of the blue one day as i passed, on my way home alone,  she gestured for me to come to the window.   we swapped names and phone numbers and not too long  later she felt safe enough to ask me in. 

She'd had a top tier job in finance, choosing a career over children, and had been at the height of success when lung cancer struck,  she had been a lifelong smoker.     her husband worked in the same field and his way of coping with her illness was to work 60 hour weeks and drink half a bottle of whiskey before getting her ready for bed.    they had always been too busy to have time for friendships and now she was alone all day just sitting in front of the window,  waiting for him to come home.    they had lived in that house for over 20 years and knew nobody and nobody had taken the time to get to know her and give her company when she needed it most.   

I don't come out of this too well either.   a young mum with two energetic boy children coping with illness myself, i didn't give her the time she deserved and when she died suddenly i was devastated and full of guilt, promising to do better next time.   of course when the next time came around i  didn't do much better, we don't do we?

I think i'm trying to say, don't leave friendships till it's too late.   no matter how satisfying your career, one day you'll  retire.    no matter how willing your family are to support you,  sometimes it's the non partisan advice of a friend that we need to hear.    no matter how much you and your partner love each other, life is fragile and you can't guarantee how  long you have together.   

One day YOU  might be sitting in a chair at a window watching a world you can no longer enter.    if that  time comes i wish you a battalion of friendships, companions in the flesh and on the phone and by mail and drone if necessary, friendships galore, a bouquet of people who will love you to the end.   


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