Heart Attack

He called him during supper to say that he’d had a heart attack. The paramedics were with him, he told him, and they were going to take him to hospital in Swansea. He sounded a little shaken but chattered away sometimes to him and sometimes to the female paramedic whom we could hear in the background. This lady, he said, has just put something in my ear. There is a hospital just up the road, but apparently, and again we heard the paramedic talking, ‘they’re taking everyone there (the hospital in Swansea) now’. He wanted to help, understandably so he is kind, and reminded him to take his ipad and charger. How long they will keep him there who knows. I shrink from his encroachment, and am embarassed, and indeed ashamed of it. He is alone with this (one daughter lives in the US and the other is in London). But there is something chaotic about him, there always has been. He feels it too and has admitted as much. But I too want to be kind. It is frightening when things like this happen to your body, unbidden. He is ill already but a heart attack was not on the cards. Help me to be more compassionate, to put others needs before my own convenience. Let my boundaries, my barriers soften. For in the end it is only fear.

Yesterday was dread-filled. An unknown, unformed dread assailed me. I’m embarrassed by it. I have no reason to be so fearful. I am safe, loved and nurtured. I listened to an excellent programme on the radio called Last Christmas – a series of spoken essays curated by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson. They were heart-rending, stories from refugees, a homeless man, a heart-surgeon, comic and from Wise and Thompson themselves. I need to listen to such narratives, I need to be taken beyond the small confines of my blessed existence – to feel for others and stand in their shoes awhile.

Still so so dark. I light candles like my Norwegian forbears would’ve done and wait it out. I finished the sampler, but with loads of mistakes. Your learning, he would say. One more to go. A labour of love. A gift. Will she like it? Them? It’s in place of words I struggle to say and she is reluctant to hear. Let it, them, speak on my behalf. A covert offer of love, of constancy of thought. I have always thought of you, always. Know this.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.