She’s been crying in the bathroom for almost half an hour.
It started because she didn’t want to have a shower
but really, it’s because she can’t take any more time in the hospital.
After seven days she is done.
That and the fact that she is insanely overtired, having spent the majority of the day awake for the first time in days.
In six weeks she’ll be eight.
It’s so hard to fathom that this girl can’t make it through the day without feeling absolutely, to the point of tears, exhausted.
It is how it is though.
In the bathroom her sobs echo loudly as she heaves and snuffles and peels off into wave after wave of sadness and I am both sorry for her and cranky for a while as I struggle with my own feelings and cabin fever.
I don’t understand why she is having this breakdown.
I don’t but I do.
My couped up self fights with the urge to be understanding.
Frustration boils under the surface every day you are locked in a small space but I know this is about more than my request that the small girl shower – the request that started a cascade of grief.
It’s about loss of control
and loss of family
and loss of normality all rolled into one enormous explosion of emotion
and I get that.
I totally get that.
I ask her to stop but she can’t.
I go into the bathroom and try to coax her out with words but it doesn’t work.
She has squirrelled herself into the very corner of the shoebox room, between the (un)helpful handrail and the toilet – her head resting against the wall, her tears streaming down her face, eyes squeezed shut.
It’s not easy to see your child like this.
“I’m so sorry,” she says as I pick her up and transplant her to the bed, draw the grey hospital issue blinds
and turn off the lights.
I don’t know what I expect – for her to concede to sleep when she has spent the day largely refusing my every suggestion.
To give into the exhaustion -
to give into me.
“I’m sorry,” she cries again
and when I ask her why she is apologising she says she is sorry for being mean to me all day
and for being angry
and for being sick.
It’s all her fault – all of it and I should have just done away with her at birth.
It’s then that I no longer want to butt heads with her.
It’s right at that minute that I fully understand what this is about.
I appreciate self blame.
She agrees to a shower then.
She is spent.
All of her fight is gone.
In the shower she apologises over and over – the words spilling from her mouth and running away with the water,
into the drain -
cleansing her little spirit as well.
I say: “Now, you listen to me. None of this is your fault – it’s genetics and you just can’t help that and you’re not expected to be happy about it either”.
I tell her we are all doing the best we can and she is braver and stronger than any other person I know.
She says: “actually I’m always sad when we have to come to hospital but sometimes I can’t hide it any more, that’s not brave at all”
and then: “a hug from you would help”.
So I wrap the white hospital issue towel around her and pull her into me, feeling for all the world that I have nothing more to give her but this basic form of affection as acknowledgement of my understanding.
This is our life right now.
and the constant realisation that we are only human.