He encourages me to be stoic. He is. He reminds me how he wakes each morning realising that he will never see properly out of his right eye again. It is all misty. It has gone, died. I have forgotten his loss. I have forgotten to remember how it is with him. I am sorry for that. There are his hands too, with both his little and third fingers bent and rigid. And the drugs that give him a belly that he doesn’t want, cannot bear, that brings him down now and again. But he does bear it. He is sanguine when I am not. He is my role model. He takes care with his appearance, makes the best of things. I shall do the same. He cannot see what the problem is, not really. He loves me as I am. Now isn’t that a good thing? And even as I fret I know of others’ problems. He has a friend who has to have dialysis, a man who has been unwell most of his life. He is stoic. He drinks a little too much but so what. That’s not to mention the starving, the disenfranchised, the lost, the needy, the dying, the poor, the abused, the incarcerated. I carry them with me and am ashamed of my smallness of mind.

I’ve begun to read about the poet Anne Sexton. It’s one of her daughters’s account. It is a harrowing tale. I find a blog that someone has written about this book and they admonish her for writing it, her sister, they say, hasn’t written a word. Does she have the right to write it? Is she not allowed a right to have her say, to tell how it was for her? Her mother is dead. Her father too, I suspect. It is a tricky one. So much is being revealed, truly uncomfortable things, but she clearly needs to articulate them. The question is is whether a published book is the best place to do it. I cannot answer it? I am caught in the same dilemma.

You don’t have to read it, he says when he drops me off after work. I know. I know I don’t but I want to, I want to learn how you write such things. I want to learn about that process of detachment. For that is what it is, detachment from the core of it. The pain of it. All because you want to see it more clearly. She, the daughter admits to not being sure that she always has the truth of an event and then quotes her mother: ‘what actually happened is not nearly as important as how you feel about what happened‘. It’s a tricky one. After all who owns the real truth? And is one person’s truth more valid, more right than an others? None of these things come easy, perhaps they are not meant to do. I am looking for catharsis, an end to something, a neatening. Perhaps it won’t come, perhaps it cannot be.

I just need to write it, as honestly as I can. That is all.

The woman with the bag was back this morning, walking ahead of me towards the harbour.

The fairy lights the hang from the ceiling of the sea-front breakfast room of the Shoreline guest house along South Marine Terrace had been left on. I could see them flashing green, pink, yellow and red from Castle Point. They cheered me.

Time to work. Jobs done. Coffee first, then write.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.