The following post is an adaptation of a Twitter thread I wrote last year. It is a tale of love, kindness, thanks and appreciation. As I said at the time, I am a private person such personal commentary was, and still is, unusual territory for me.
B and I have just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary and as I look back we have so much to be grateful for.
Reviewing events from a distance, and as the world rocks with the impact of a pandemic for which there is no cure, I am struck by the need to focus on that which we can do, rather than those things that feel outwith our control.
We can be kinder to each other; we can take a little more time to notice and to listen. We can engage with humanity and humility and allow quiet space for others to fill in their way, without proscription. We can look after each other, as friends, as families and as strangers. We can wear a mask; our way of saying you are important to me, you are me and we, us and together.
The following is a brief tale of a tumultuous week one year ago.
B and I got married on Friday 12th July 2019. After 30 odd years together, we said “I do” in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Queen Elisabeth Hospital (QEH).
B made his way there by ambulance, anaesthetist on hand, blue lights flashing, from the Beatson Cancer Care Unit on Monday 8th. He was initially admitted to the High Dependency Unit (thankyou NHS).
On Wednesday 10th I received a call from QEH asking me to “please make your way to the hospital”. B’s health had deteriorated. He was moved to the ICU and placed on a ventilator.
It was breathing in and out. Awake, he spoke in whispers of the Consultant stroking his hand (everyday kindness).
Thursday 11th the Consultant explained the options. There were discussions and stark choices. B decided there was to be no intervention if things took a downturn (such compassion and respect).
Our focus narrowed. B and I had spoken of getting married but not quite got around to it. I called our friend, JJ, a superhero. She made it her mission (the power of friendship).
Our wedding was arranged within less than 24 hours. B’s Consultant wrote that B may not survive the 28 day lying period required; he asked for an exemption. The Registrar pulled out all the stops. The hospital Chaplain dropped everything to be of service. Our best people abandon their plans and witnessed our ceremony on Friday 12th July 2019 (surrounded by compassion and commitment).
B had few breaths and fewer words. The Chaplain kept it simple and shared a poem (such thoughtfulness).
The ward staff bought our wedding feast and were witnesses at our wedding. Nurse M was our wedding photographer. M&S donated our wedding bouquet (small acts of kindness).
B loves reading and good journalism. Out of necessity and with no time for other, our wedding rings were made from the Financial Times newspaper (simple special things).
The next day, L, whose husband lay 2 beds away called to me in the corridor. She gave me the biggest hug. She said our wedding had brought her joy in a time of sadness. She wished me all the love in the world and hoped that I would be as happy as she had been. Her husband sadly died; I think of her generosity often (such love and kindness).
B is getting stronger. We walk each morning, slowly a bit further each day. We were sitting resting one day when Nurse M (our wedding photographer) saw us. She was so delighted that B was looking so well and was excited to go back to work to tell others (so much more than a job).
B and I were supported through this period by wonderful friends, family and colleagues without whom it would have been so much harder (the importance of great support).
As a society we face even greater challenges than B and I faced one year ago. Covid-19 is putting our society to the test and Health and Social Care is at the sharp end of this struggle. It is my hope that, as a society, we can marshal the same resources that B and I were so fortunate to draw on during our own personal crisis. It is what saw us through and, in my humble opinion, is what makes life worth living.