2007 — 9 November: flooded Friday

Time now (08:29) and Radio 3 has just informed me that East Anglia's flood defences largely withstood a tidal surge last night. It's sunny, bright, cold, and clear here. The sort of day that would normally galvanise us into some form of pleasant outdoor activity or trip out. Loathsome disease!

Apart from breakfast, which can't be of interest to anyone, I have nothing to report until after this morning's visit to the hospice. I did, however, receive a lovely email last night from Val's daughter who reminded me of happy times over 25 years ago in Old Windsor:

I haven't seen either of you for many years now, so the way I think of you is fixed in time back in Old Windsor. I said to Mum that I can remember coming round to your house to see the new baby - Peter - who now, incredibly, is grown up. Somehow, I feel he must only be a teenager, but that is probably because I can't possibly be the age that I am. Christa, you were always happy and laughing; David, you were always doing something with wires and equipment.


Beautifully summed up, I have to admit, even as I wipe away a tear or three.

Is that the time?!

Just (12:40ish) back from the hospice "via" a pot of Earl Grey with co-pilot Iris, again in the Brambridge Garden Centre. We had a melancholy-tinged chat (more of a monologue if I'm honest, but it really helps to have a sympathetic listener on hand who knows us both) after calling in on Christa. She is yet more heavily sedated against pain, and (as we arrived) the doctor was just discussing with Her our earlier decision (and agreement) not to provide rehydration drips. Her tummy blockage is basically stopping absorption of what She drinks (or what very little She manages to eat). She is consequently, and naturally, becoming steadily more dehydrated, which adds to the sleepiness. As Her kidney1 function slows down, this effect will only increase.

I can accept this. She does accept this. We are both very tired of this journey, but can see that it's drawing to a gentle close. We are neither of us "happy" about this, but we are facing it together. She is ready to go, and I want Her to go when She is ready. There is no simple solution to this ghastly equation, and no certainty as to timing, save to know when we are on the final slope. But my vital Christa lives on for the time being, and is still calm and smiling. And still worrying gently about me! Amazing.

Flowers in camera

At Christa's request, I had the camera with me on our afternoon visit. Not to photograph Her (She does not wish that, and I wouldn't dream of it in any case), but to photograph some of the flowers She has been receiving. I should have thought of this sooner, of course. She also wants me to say that, instead of further florists' bills (despite Her life-long support of such local businesses) perhaps people could consider some form of donation to the hospice? Much as She loves flowers, and Her beloved garden (which, amazingly, has yet a further small crop of roses right now), She feels the hospice itself is a worthier cause.

Got back from the afternoon visit (thanks again, Iris) to find a nice ansaphone message from our GP ("Dr Joey" as Christa decided to call her some time ago) reminding us that we are both in her thoughts. As one of the nurses, Jane, remarked in an email just a few days ago "she is a great lady and I am very fond of her — they say never get too attached to your patients, but every so often you can't help it — she is very courageous". I think I can correctly refer to this as "the Christa effect". It is an enormous comfort to me, and to our son, to realise just how many people have been so very moved by Christa's plight, Her courage, and Her dignity.



1  The consultant some while ago outlined this "likeliest" scenario for Christa's final days, and reassured me, if not the Girl herself, that it was a "relatively kind and not unpleasant death" in which one slips ever deeper into unconsciousness. It was the way Isaac Asimov left us, among many others.