“Let’s get out of the city” she said, gesturing towards her car. The night shifts were long and despite being exhausted from the weeks work, there was a strong desire to just run away from the city, even if it were only for a few days. Brighton was enough, it’s bustling pier sank into the grey waters which were lapping harshly against the pebble beach, afflicted by each gust of wind from the south. We all needed a break after working tirelessly in the hospital during the height of the covid pandemic, not one of us got a break and even now, when our diverse team weren’t allowed home to their birth countries, all we had was each other. This was a good as it could get for now, but it was enough. We scrambled into my car and drove until we hit Brighton. The air was different and each gust of wind blew in greasy seaside chips and hot sugared donuts. Those days were filled with love, with friendship and lots of candyfloss. The arcade games are likely dented from our over use on the rainy afternoon and the pebbles arranged into the face of keanu reeves in Brighton beach.
Granted, it wasn’t Mykonos or Barcelona, but it really is about who you’re with at the time that makes it memorable.

A note

My last post was extremely difficult to share, but I did it because everyone deserves to know that the biggest heroes out there aren’t the NHS workers but the resilient, brave and strong patients like L. I miss her, and even though our relationship was professional in almost every aspect, it is impossible to ignore the raw vulnerabilities of a person when they are laid out for you to see every day. Every smile and laugh I got from her was like a reward for helping her, we gave each other something.

I respect her so much and it is with reservations that I post this, but she was the reason I didn’t give up so early on in my career. She made that helpless, exhausted, runaway girl feel as if she was doing something right for the first time in her life, I will ALWAYS be grateful for that, for all the memories since, and all the days to come.

As strong as her

LR was the first patient that made me feel like I was actually a nurse. She needed me and I, in some ways, needed her. She gave me confidence and hope and strength. Gosh, the strength of that woman you couldn’t believe. LR had lymphoma, the third life threatening cancer she has encountered in her near four decades of life. This was the first thing that captured me-what a person, what a fight this person has had to get this far, and then to be told this final cancer might be the one to end her life.

She was the first patient that made me feel any good as a nurse, the patient that, when I looked into her eyes, showed me that I was needed. Whatever the time or need, I would be there. She was my soft spot. As weeks went past they tried chemo after chemo and finally a new treatment that was supposedly going to be the breakthrough in the haematology world. LR grew weak, separated from her loving husband and sweet young daughter she leaned on us for support and we gave it, because she was part of our team now and we wanted desperately to save her life. So so many nights I stayed up with her as she rigored in bed, bled from her back and cried through the fear. So many days I made her smile and laugh so she would know that she wasn’t alone, timing her endless medication and transfusions she needed just to get through a day.

Months went by and nothing changed, it was day in, day out and nothing. Slowly, she deteriorated. The treatment didn’t work.

One day I came in, they told me she wasn’t right. She was not well at all and stared blankly into the walls and barely into my eyes when I got her attention. Her husband sat on a chair next to her bed, his torso covering her in protection, exhausted. Unable to speak or move properly, I did everything I could to make her well again but many hours passed and LR went to the ICU. Holding her hand, and holding her husband as he cried, we went down there. When I came back up, LR did not. “I’ll come and visit you” I said, as I finished my handover to the ICU nurse and squeezed LR’s hand gently, thinking in my head “please don’t go”.

I walked briskly out and back to the ward, taking some time looking over the view at the window with tears streaming from my eyes and no body around to tell me everything would be alright.

I gathered myself, went back to my colleagues and finished my shift, smiling kindly at my remaining patients like my heart hadn’t just broken a little. That was the hardest, the pretending. LR was on my mind.

The following morning I woke to a text. “RIP LR”, and as tears broke out from behind my eyes, I sobbed in my room, grief ridden. It was so quick. I had tried to do so much the day before, to save some time from the horrible inevitability of her death, but it had been futile. Though now when I think of it, it had all been for her. All those sleepless nights and busy days, they were all done in the projection of her own beautiful hope. She knew that ultimately she wasn’t going to make it but she tried, and she fought with everything in her and i saw that. She made me want to fight for her with everything in me. We both lost her fight.

I still see her face, even in the room that was once hers, I see the memories. I can’t remember all the things that happened, but I remember everything that I felt and that is what will last. I see her husband in my head, and her beautiful daughter who now needs to be so brave. I see the food that she liked and feel her hand squeezing mine like that one time she was having cells taken from her back.

She was so weak at the end but I’d never met anyone stronger.

I am so grateful to have known her, and I’m proud to be me. I hope I can be as strong as her.

Newcastle

You know when someone just makes you so happy?

When one person can make you feel like everything in the world is ok and will be ok…?

The nostalgia and the strength that comes from it is exactly what I needed, I could almost cry from the momentary relief if brought to me. It took me back to a day where I felt free, where I was young and vulnerable and felt like the world was at my feet. When we met I was that person and ever since I have just been becoming someone I’m not entirely happy with. Times with her make me feel like I could be that person again. They make me feel like somehow I could go back to being my own sunshine. Things get me down so much, so easily, I just have to get to a point where I just cannot let them. I am so bloody lucky to have what i have, no matter how hard it is. I have a great job that is so hard yes, but so important in the sense that I get to help people who really need me. That’s an amazing thing no matter what. I have a family, a huge family filled with so much love that sometimes I don’t even know how to process. Isn’t that just ridiculous? And then I have friends like her, friends that just connect to me on a personal level, make me feel like I am understood even if it is in a moment of craziness. She makes me feel more normal in what I feel. She makes me feel like I’m not the only person in the world curious about things or wanting to test limits and I love that. I need that. And although we have grown up differently, there will always be that connection and that is a wonderful thing.

Infinity Escape

Albany Farm. Essex

She woke at 5am with an alarming sense of enthusiasm for the day. When usually she would be glazed-eyed and grumpy at waking in the early hours, she instead accepted the morning with pleasure.

A break in the curtains shielding the draft of a cool morning showed her that the day was already going to be cool and bright, with the perfect kind of morning for a ride in the forest.

Some minutes later her jodhpurs were on and with her boots hastily pulled from the rack, she crept out the front door and into the car. The drive was silent and peaceful, the wide roads barren with only the neighbours cat, Bowie, prowling the streets. He too, looked peaceful, his face composed and fragile, like he was both in deep thought and no thought at all.

Besides Bowie, her focus was on the huge black gates squeaking open at her arrival, being conscious of her early visit and the neighbours surrounding the farm. They were dark an ominous to those who didn’t know what was through them, but to her, it felt like coming home.

The grass was wet in the fields and the huge estate home with the lavender flowerbeds became the object of her desire as it was illuminated by the dew. Since childhood it had been the house of fairytales, it’s provincial beams and large windows were just the image of something from Proust or Flaubert. It was dreamy.

As the sky woke, she stumbled across the divots in the field to find her horse, a sweet charismatic gelding, who she has had since she was 13 years old. He brushed against her with affection as she led him in for hay and water. Upon their meeting the sky lit up in a bright pink, bouncing across every corner of her eyes and through the trees and over the barn and all around. She remained the only spectator and felt as though the world had performed this spectacle to treat only her. That moment was solitary and special, for the rest of her day was filled with so many obligations to so many people. She, at least, knew she had this moment where the sky made her feel infinite.

Nocte Memories

Clear cool water wading up to your waist

yellow sun and green palms cast shadows on your face

A bright smile like those that I’ve loved this whole time

These days in this heaven, the days when you’re mine.

A turn of the waist to the sound of a drum

That gorgeous white shirt and your skin like the sun

The small gestures you give to those on the street

With no gloves on their hands or shoes on their feet

You make me see them clearly, but you make me see you too

Because the things that make them happy are the reasons you are you.

The passion and opinions that can make me so mad

Or the frustration from love that can make me so sad

I will take over anything because the love that I feel

When we are together and dancing, it’s real

I’ll love you for always and miss you like a lover

And like you said in that proverb I’ll hold you close like a brother

The smile on your face when you say something funny

Your love of mint tea and sweet Manuka honey

My dearest, my friend, I adore you so much

That these words that I write shall never be enough

to tell you I want us forever in this way

My laughs and my friendship will never go astray.

Everyone Smiles in the same Language

This time last year I was lucky enough to be travelling around Colombia. Even with my (and my mother’s) pre conceptions about this cultured and historical country, I knew I was going to learn so much from it and the people there. Although it was a rocky start being so out of my comfort zone, this place was a paradise.

This picture was taken in the city of Cartagena, a 16th century town important for its port, ideally situated for trade to Spain and back. It is the most vibrant city I have ever visited, and with its brightly coloured balconies and huge, beautiful and bold wooden doors, the positivity is hard to ignore. As well as being the safest (at present) city in Colombia (there you go mum…!), the people were as exciting as the colours. The mural painted onto this wall reminded me of how close we can be as humans. We are all so lucky to be related to each other in our humanity, no matter which country we live in or our upbringing. I can only imagine how people here in Cartagena would see my little corner of Essex, but I am incredibly grateful for their little corner of Colombia, and I am smiling.

highlights

Stay

I am trying so hard

Not to want to be in your arms,

And for the weeks that feel like forever

I will pray that we are together,

Because you mean so much more

Than whatever I’m searching for,

And I don’t know if it’s real

But whatever I feel, I feel.

I will see your face in photographs you take,

They’ll remind me of how much i love fate,

For bringing you to me

Like the moon brings land, the sea

Or the sun shines half the earth, nightly

With you I feel free.

There are no limits or boundaries I have to face,

As long as you keep me warm in your embrace,

My fears and my worries, they fly away

And that’s why I need you always, to stay.

You make me a better me just by smiling your sweet grin,

Your gorgeous soft cheeks and little round chin.

Oh I do love you dearly so mean it when you say

That you love me too, and that’s enough reason to stay

A Great Stranger

Last year I was travelling in Peru with my best friend. Unfortunately that (what seemed to be) everlasting friendship came to an end earlier on this year and now I have albums of memories I’m not sure whether to look at with love or bitterness. I suppose it would still be love.

Anyway. I have always been the kind of person to make friends with anyone and everyone I wanted, even if I was in a large group, I thought the more perspectives, opinions and differences the better-I still stand by this. We met L on a tour bus around the Huacachina region of Peru and travelled similar paths all the way until our mutual destination by Macchu Picchu. L was a few years older, seemed to be a few years wiser and from the US (which to me as a Brit, was cool)

The scenery was beautiful and the nights were long. I tried hard to make friends with L, and she, with no preconceptions, was “hell yeah” about everything and we became friends easily. It wasn’t difficult to maintain a conversation, in fact, I’d had the most interesting conversations with her all month and her sense of adventure seemed to match mine. This stranger from the other side of the world seemed to match me so much, I felt drawn to the energy. We laughed and talked and ate and boarded down sand dunes in the glaring heat of the desert.

This picture was taken on a hike to the Colca Canyon. It is L and myself and one of the only pictures I have of us together. We remain friends and my “pre lockdown” plan was to escape to the US for a while… this clearly has been postponed but I swear I will go! We had an idea to spend our birthdays together, go camping and “drink beer and push me down a snowy mountain on my snowboard” (her words, not mine but sounds good to me!)

This day led into one of my favourite nights ever. The Stars were swarming the sky, connected by streams of their own light to one another. They made me cry just looking at them, I couldn’t believe their beauty. I looked at L, sitting in front of me, resting asleep on the shoulder of another stranger, thinking that life couldn’t feel any more free than this. I can’t wait to feel this way again.

The Night Shift

Tiredness lurks in every cell of my body,

Yet I am forcing my eyes to stay seeing, my ears to stay hearing and my heart to stay beating,

For I have left you in the midst of my slumber and the start of your waking,

Yet I am not ready to leave for an unconscious world where you may not be.

My heart beats faster, my mind thinks slower and maybe this is the way it should be, for now the reasoning of the mind has little power in taking over the desires of the heart. And you are the desire of mine.

Yet you flurry away like snow in the wind, like palm leaves wavering across the heat of the sun whilst I lay in its shade.

I am desperate not to care in my slumber but all I want is you and I wish you’d want me too.