Fallen Tree

I bring him snippets of the outside world, anything to get him out of his head. You know the house on Llanbadarn Road, I said, the one with the lovely lawn of snowdrops? Yes, he said. Well, I said, one of its trees has fallen onto the road, blocking one lane. Oh, no, he said. Yes, I said, and the police were there as I walked out, directing the traffic. It’s a sad thing, the loss of a tree. It shakes one’s equilibrium. The wind is wild. I walked anyway. I had to. I had to go out and face it, be in it. And I have to go out again in an hour to walk the hill to work. I don’t know which way to go. I could go through the University but there are so many trees and I am nervous about them falling. So perhaps Penglais hill is best.

Yesterday was a wobbly one. He gets so frightened coming up to the kitchen to announce that he must call NHS Wales for advice about coming off his medication. Perhaps he is doing it too fast? I try to steady him. No knee jerk responses, trust that the doctor knows what he is doing. All will be well. All will be well. He doesn’t want to eat, but then he does. Up and down. Up and down. He is not sleeping, which doesn’t help. And just lies there staring into the abyss of his uncertainty and panic. I try to be steady, do the domestic things, create an even base. It isn’t easy, inside I am as uncertain, as scared as he is. And this wind. Things rattle in the courtyard outside, a rolling bottle, a plant pot. Everything is being churned up. Then there is hail, and sleet. I put waterproofs under waterproofs. I managed to get to the harbour but didn’t walk the Prom. The boats’ rigging was jangling and ringing, a cacophony of cow bells, jarring, demanding attention. The students were out regardless, coatless, they are fearless. Was I so at their age? I feel so fragile, ready to snap. I walked to the church, marvelled at its solidity. Hundreds of years its been there. His parents ashes are there, and he will join them. I am flotsam. A dandelion seed buffeted, tossed here and there. Nothing is solid. But I try to be. It just has to be lived through, this transition stage of his, this winter, this menopause, this lowness. It has to be lived through. Coming through to the other side.

Memories of Amsterdam, our escape from such a long time ago. We don’t travel anymore. At least not together. Will we again? He shows no enthusiasm for it. I understand. He is locked in his fear. I need to breathe. I do want I can for him and dream of flight.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.