Being powerless to alleviate the suffering of someone you love is one of the most acutely painful experiences, most of us will have to endure in life.
When a family member or friend is hurt, injured or seriously ill, you will do almost anything to bring them ease.
But sometimes you can’t help. You can’t be with them or comfort them. You have to have faith that somebody else will.
Last week, on New Year’s Eve, my mother fell and broke her hip. It is a devastating injury for anyone, but mammy is a lung transplant recipient and immunosuppressed.
She is oxygen dependent, and life is not easy for her, but she is a warrior like no other.
Our greatest fear of her being hospitalised during the height of the most dangerous Covid-19 surge has been realised. The past week has been a blur of despair, choking anxiety mixed with elation when things began to turn around for her.
We are blessed in many ways, but the road ahead is uncertain.
Mam has received the most amazing care from committed professionals at Mayo University Hospital, and we are forever indebted to them.
Performing surgery on an almost impossibly high-risk patient during a pandemic takes enormous moral courage. Being empathetic and respectful to desperate families while the health system is almost burning around them speaks to the character of our frontline workers.
We have experienced extraordinary kindness from Consultants, nurses, health care assistants, security staff and secretaries.
While this week has been torturous, we have seen the best of people.
One ICU nurse rang me from her own phone so that I could see mammy’s face in the middle of the night.
We can’t visit, and we understand, but it is heartbreaking.
That kind of separation is a very different kind of loneliness. It’s tinged with guilt, sorrow longing.
We have been to the hospital’s front door almost every day dropping off essential meds and equipment, but we can’t go in.
She’s in there, and we can’t reach her. I have felt like we were abandoning her. Which, I know, is kind of ridiculous.
At this point in mams life, we hoped all suffering was behind her. The unfairness of it all can feel overwhelming, but that is an unhelpful attitude.
She has come through tougher battles than this and she will this time too.
Try as we might we can’t ignore or deny that the Covid-19 situation is deteriorating by the minute.
Mayo University Hospital is badly hit and getting her safely home to us is our next hurdle.
This is another situation where you again have to give in to hope. Agonising hope.
A strange thing happens when something you are terrified about becomes a reality.
You almost start bargaining with yourself. With your fears, with your knowledge.
You begin interrogating things you know to be true.
I know mammy is high risk and I know that Covid-19 is circulating in the hospital.
But I won’t let myself believe she is at serious risk.
It is a helpful survival strategy. Otherwise, you would go mad.
Just two days before mam fell, I got married. We had the most beautiful day, and she was so happy.
We haven’t really had a chance to talk about it since. But we will. I can’t wait to show her photos and talk about dads speech, which went surprisingly well.
We just want to do normal things like watch Coronation Street and have a cup of tea.
Blessed normality is what we all want in this new and strange world.