I used to think I liked surprises; a surprise hug, a cup of tea you weren’t expecting, an unusual birthday present five months early. Those are all acceptable forms for surprise to take, being all reasonably pleasant and involving the acquisition of nice things. (unless the hugger has BO or something, but that’s by the by)
These days I have less of a taste for surprise. More accurately, I have less of a taste for suspense. When something unpleasant is going to happen, but you don’t know quite when, it leaves you feeling on edge. That’s alright for a day or so, but when you feel like that for a week or even several weeks, there’s a feeling of being poised on the edge of a cliff, waiting to tumble down into the sea below. A kind of lurching feeling, like that moment when you’re held in suspense on a roller coaster just before a plummet. It’s not a very nice feeling. I would quite happily be without it if it’s absence didn’t mean that the terrible thing had happened.
I am of course talking about my gran who is unwell at the moment. What a word, unwell. As though she might at any moment spring from her bed and be well again. At this point that is impossible. So here we are, waiting for the inevitable. And in the meantime, does life go on? It does, because it must. But every moment that passes is tainted with the constant knowledge that time is passing and can never be undone. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. The last conversation I had with her while she was awake, for one. Or maybe I could go back before that and… what? Visit her in Bolton somehow? I don’t know. But it haunts me. The trouble with regret is that there is often absolutely nothing that can be done about it.
In the immortal words of Owl City: this isn’t the end.
I can’t work out if that’s a comforting thought.