First of all the despair. Having written what I did about the pain being under control, last night was a really rough one. Then Andy came back home from the pub with really good news about a friend of ours, a very hard-working lad who despite having left school at sixteen and having gone through many trials, has now at my age landed himself a place studying History at York (not sure whether it’s York or York St. Johns, but either way this is fantastic news for him). Unfortunately, this sent me over the edge and I cried. I supposed in part out of joy for my friend but mostly pure envy. It’s not bloody fair.
I almost feel that I am cursed, but I know this would be a big mistake. I have always felt that it is up to me to find my own way out of the unsatisfactory situation I find myself in. It’s not my fault I’m ill, but it’s up to me whether I let this ruin my life. Unfortunately just how much responsibility I have is unclear. Maybe I am not trying hard enough. Maybe I am pushing too hard. Either way, after nine years, I’ve not got very far.
Or have I? It’s not nine years of nothing. I have been working hard all along, to get some GCSEs (three of them took me four years effectivity), then my Open University courses, plus running an online support group at one point, travelling round the country visiting those less mobile than myself, maintaining something that vaguely resembles a social life. Plus all my craft projects, learning to play the guitar etc. And there’s the book, which is almost done. Almost but I still have a shitload to do on it before I’m happy.
But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility than nine years later I won’t have got much further.
And then there’s the whole jealousy of youth thing which I have described before. I don’t worry about my time running out; in my experience, life gets slightly easier with every year we age, just because we come steadily better equipped (until ultimately I guess, we are ready to cope with dying). But it’s just that I don’t have a lot of fun. Well, in fairness I do – you must excuse the nature of my despair, which is contradictory – but my having fun is often by myself, or perhaps with one or two other people and is never outrageous. Outrageousness – that’s what I yearn for. I really am talking out of my arse today, sorry.
Anyway, the inspiration. A few weeks ago a lady called Abigail Witchalls was walking with her baby in a quiet English village when a total stranger came along and stabbed her in the neck. She was declared to be dead on arrival at hospital before someone noticed some sign of life and she’s now conscious and regaining feeling. It’s been a big news story here because it was so shocking; unprovoked attack, rural setting. And she’s also an attractive lady with a cute bairn.
Anyway, the inspirational bit is this article about her husband’s statement. The headline is Abigail feels no anger and that in itself, the fact her husband Benoit says, “It's someone that's probably suffered in their lives and we've just got to see what we can as a society do to help them.” is pretty remarkable.
However, the bit of particular interest to me is when he says,
“We feel very lucky and very blessed because she is fully present as herself... it's a great joy. I think I've had a crash course in spinal injury, and you just can't tell anything for the first month so it's a case of wait and see really, but she's still got her smile which is very comforting to see.
“You can see in her face when she sees Joseph - the reason that the first word that she mouthed was 'happy' was because she was so relieved that he came out of it unscathed, physically.
“It may well be that she's going to be paralysed from the neck down for life but people live wonderful lives paralysed from the neck down. Our expectations have had to change drastically in the last three weeks, but that's not to say that we're not still going to live peaceful lives, with a family."
While I was down south my Mum and I had an argument because she said that in many ways it would have been better if the guy who did this had finished her off. Forgive my Mum, she is the sort of person who, having developed a sprained ankle on a walk in the park, would probably insist her party left her behind to the mercy of the elements and the ravenous ducks.
Although I am not one of these people that get sucked into news stories, I was really happy to read this because I was so expecting to read about how her life had been totally destroyed. Benoit Witchalls even says,
"You know life is just a lottery and this could so easily have happened, as it does to so many people, through a car accident or through some sort of illness."
I’m not for a moment imagining that these guys don’t have a very long road ahead of them and I very much hope and pray than the lady recovers a lot feeling and movement than she already has, but I was very moved by this. Frankly, I have so much less to deal with than a loss such as that, but the fact that it is possible to have such a positive attitude to such loss makes me feel a little more able to cope with my own.