It has rained all day and is raining still. Looking out of the window I see little sign of it letting up. This evening, as I was eating dinner, my buzzer rang. When I pressed the intercom to ask who was there, I heard the voice of my troubled daughter. She asked me if she could come in and maybe stay the night. I turned her away. She didn’t protest.
She is banned from entering this block of flats, just as she is banned from several other places, but she knows that if I wished to, I could let her in through the back door, and unless she had another drug-fuelled psychotic episode while she was here, nobody would be any the wiser.
She may have nowhere to stay tonight. There are few people left who feel able to tolerate her, and the two or three who do are in a similar condition to her, although I only know of one other who clearly drags the shadow of death wherever he goes.
I returned to the carefully prepared meal that I had been enjoying, and hastily shovelled forkfuls into my mouth, chewing a little and swallowing without pleasure. The food had lost its savour and I no longer wanted it, but I was taught to eat every scrap, so that is what I did.
Although I wanted to curl up in a corner and scream, I forced myself to carry on composing my day six assignment for WordPress Writing 101. I could sense Laura sitting outside on a bench below me, just out of eyesight, with the rain soaking into her woven summer jacket. I reminded myself, over and over, that I must not go to her. Her only chance – though it’s a slim one – lies in me refusing admittance, and discouraging contact. If I stay strong she may choose to go into recovery. I may be the one thing she is not prepared to lose to her multiple drug habit. Her organs are shutting down, and if she doesn’t stop using she is unlikely to live much longer. Having regular contact with me makes her habit worse. She has a need to prove to me what a mess she is, and the more she sees me, the more drugs she consumes.
I keep my curtains open all evening. I live on the top floor, so people have to look up to see in my window, and, should they do so, they will see little more than ceiling. After about forty minutes I sensed movement outside. I looked down, and saw my daughter walking away. My leg muscles twitched in an effort to rebel against my brain, which told me not to chase after her. My brain won. These days it usually does.
I watched the rain and I wondered – not for the first time – whether that brief glimpse of her, as she turned and glanced my way, was the last time I will ever see her alive. It was dark, and I couldn’t see the only beautiful feature that she has retained, her hazel eyes.
The last time I looked into those eyes I reminded her that it was her choice to live or to die, and told her that, should she die, I would like her to know that I love her very much. I would like that comforting thought to be with her when she takes her last breath and finally steps into eternal peace.
I think I have reached beyond fear, but I am very sad and lost tonight, and I wonder, can love conquer all?
©Jane Paterson Basil