After such a late night I woke at a staggeringly late nine thirty. Breakfast finishes at ten, but I couldn’t find the motivation to get moving and eat. I felt a wave of sorrow at missing my children. I found myself thinking of a wonderful night with my children and a close friend and their daughter having supper and watching Disney’s Brave together recently. It felt far away. I ended up deciding to pick myself up by making an effort and putting on makeup and listened to a song from the movie.
There was no sign of Dorrie. I went and knocked and she was just rising. I made her several cups of coffee and after an hour she came to my room where we chatted and drank more coffee while I pottered stowing my possessions into the hospital and non-hospital bags. She was feeling a little under equipped in the clothing garment and so asked to borrow some clothes. I, for the record, had made the opposite choice; So many clothes. The next 15 minutes, while she tried on various things, was fun. I thought wryly that this would have been an improbable situation a few years ago. Then I mentally zoomed out and remembered nothing about this trip isn’t improbably and otherworldly.
I had been so struck by how much Shannon seemed to appreciate some human company yesterday and had, at the time, made a tentative date to go and watch a movie with her. I contacted her again and she seemed really happy to have a visitor. I had an idea that she might like to be diverted from her situation as yesterday she’d said my chattering away had caused her to forget the pain. I had bought some M&Ms and decided to take my Aeropress, Coffee Grinder and a bag of coffee beans that I bought from a wonderful coffee place in San Francisco. I also took my Aveda products as I thought she might like some pampering.
After a very unsatisfying lunch of which I ate a few mouthfuls, I got a car over to the hospital. En route I was struck by the asian bustling streets and pollution and had a vague association of the city in the movie Blade Runner.
Shannon and I shared some stories about our lives. How we came out. When we first knew we were different. Of exes and children and partners. I made the coffee. After more exchanges of anecdotes and details about our lives, I dry shampooed her hair and gave her a decidedly amateur facial that was basically my morning skincare routine.
I left feeling like I had just met a friend for life with a twinge of sadness that she lives in Idaho.
I popped next door to see Chrissie and delivered a gift of some chocolate for her too. She was still radiantly positive. We too talked about out lives and she shared her unique story and a life quite different to mine.
In the car back to the hotel I arranged to meet Dorrie, Miranda and Vivian for a beer in the lobby. They arrived and so did the beers. Another patient who was travelling alone arrived and asked to sit with us. She spoke very little English. It must be so lonely to do this by yourself, not even armed with the language to make friends. However I was feeling drained and I needed to not be making an effort, but to chat with easy friends. We made some effort to draw her in but it didn’t work. Eventually I just needed some space and asked Dorrie if we could go find some noodles.
We said goodnight to everyone and Miranda and Vivian departed. However the French lady followed us and said “now we dinner somewhere”. In that moment, I wanted to be kind, but I was depleted. I had looked after Dorrie, put a lot of love into the ladies at the hospital and heard more from Miranda about the challenge of dilation. I felt angry at the universe: “I’ve given enough today. I just need to eat noodles”. I had to say: “I am really sorry, but I go into hospital tomorrow and need to be alone with my family”. I felt so guilty. The restaurant seated her one table over in my periphery. I had to move to have some mental space and as we sat I burst into tears and sobbed. I wasn’t unhappy or scared or anxious. I was just feeling deeply emotional. It was raw emotion.
In my room, I called my close friend at home and ended up sobbing at her for quite a while. Again it wasn’t sadness or panic or fear, just exhaustion and just the overwhelming, vast emotion of this place, not just inside me but from everyone around; it permeates everything. I felt empty and depleted.
There was one ray of sunshine, which was that Shannon had posted a note on her Facebook to say that I had made a difference to her day and it made me feel like I might be making slow progress to being the kinder softer person I want to be.