I wanted it too much perhaps. It didn’t smell like hers. It was cheap, nasty and made my skin itch. And once it was on me I couldn’t get it off, for all my scrubbing. Throw it away, he says. No, I reply, I will return it. How like me. So pedantic, so thorough, so finicky. But it about neatness, order. Putting things right.

I can’t put it right. Not with her. It made me cry when I got in the car. I needed to get it out. So be it. They are drains, I remember her saying. Big organisations are drains. Drains not radiators. I have to let it be. To accept it with grace. There are benefits and as always I am grateful for the work.

‘She has. No. Plan.’ A quote from Vinegar Girl – a book that I’m reading by Anne Tyler. I’ve read it before, I think. No matter. It is so gentle, an ease. I read it at work. I have no plan. Just a tangle of mess. Like the state of my plan chest drawers, too many things awaiting completion and not enough time. I think about suggesting a writing residency. Would he be interested? But, more to the point how would I fund it and where would I find the energy? That is my greatest fear, this draining away of energy. My physical life, my vital life is ebbing away from me. I feel it.

Ah, the day has lifted somewhat. And soon I have to go out again to work.

She is a sweetie. I get her talk about herself. I like to hear it. About her Dad, missing her Mum at Christmas, (‘she meant the world to me’), going to Chepstow in the motor home, just her and Wayne and their dog. Her Dad being so taciturn, the home-truths that came out with her sisters when they went to watch the rugby and had too much wine. She’s all teeth and hair. A sweetie. Another world. So much love, so much trying to be happy. Bless her. Bless all of you. Amen to that. And the grief. Will it ever ease?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.