Acts of Love (2) 2009 - cropped

I’m bored, she says, there is nothing for me to do here. They keep us inside, she says. I walk the corridors, just to keep moving, she says. I ask about her room. It isn’t nice, she says, too plain. I ask if she has some of her things there, photographs and pictures. No, she says, its my fault. What she means is that she hasn’t the energy, the desire to make the effort, or perhaps it is just that her things, her beautiful things don’t belong there. They can hear us, she tells me down the telephone. Surely they can’t understand English, I say. Yes, yes, they can. There is a garden but she can only visit it if there is someone reliable with her. They think we will run off, she says.  And one night she watched a film, Out of Africa, I think. There is a gentleman, she says. He is good company, she says. I am glad. She was always one for the men. Somehow they lit her up in a way that I or other women could not. And it is always so good to see her smile. She shines from the inside out. A beaming smile. White. White light. She sounds cranky. She is grateful. Grateful to be safe, to be looked after, to not be alone. But it is a heavy price to pay. A loss of her independence, room to be awkward, unconventional, her specialness acknowledged, known. I am weighed down by the sadness of it. Of her. Must ageing, dying be such a shutting down? A shutting in? Dylan Thomas urged his father to rage. That, I fear is only true for those who still hope for something better to come, here, in this reality. What more for her? There is no getting better. Nothing better, than sleep and the coming oblivion. But must it be so slow? The tick tick of the hours. I remember my father. The restless agony, the endlessness of waiting, waiting to go. And what was left of him. He says, much was, that he still recognised him, even at the end. I did not. The light, the spirit was gone. And such a spirit. Like hers. Singular. Spiky. Difficult and yet so amiable when all was well, when their will was granted. Delicious singularity. Shining spirits. Glorious.

Let it be. It must be. Shining.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.