Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Phil Stephenson


Her face has moved beyond pure sadness. It seems to be empty. There is no glimmer of recognition, just degrees of blankness, tension and confusion.
The confusion is confirmed by any attempts we make to engage in conversation. More troubling still is the apparent anxiety and worry in the ramblings she initiates.
Although no sense can be made in terms of content, the body language and tone are troubling; worse still is the realisation that she cannot understand anything that is said to her.
Any attempts to reduce her discomfort and stress are fruitless, frustrating and sometimes alarming. I am shocked and saddened by the deterioration in Win’s condition and try to fully take in the scene.
My eyes move to my mother who is sitting alongside her sister Win and tenderly holding her hand. When I see the affection with which the hand is being held and then notice the tear gently inching its way down my mother’s cheek, it almost becomes too much for me and I struggle to maintain any measure of composure. I close my eyes to shut out the unhappy scene.
The conversation, which is in fact no conversation, continues. The minutes tick by. I avoid eye contact with everyone as this would plunge me even deeper into despair.
My helplessness and sadness is nothing in comparison to my mother’s. She has grown up with Win and known her for over eighty years.
There have been happy times, good times, tragedies and sadness times but nothing compares to this.
My mother is trying to be strong in front of everyone but the tell-tale tear tells me everything. I watch the tear track a course down her cheek and drop off her chin. It breaks my heart. Once again I struggle to compose myself.
Win is trapped inside a weak, frail, body with a mind that apparently has ceased to function.
For her to suffer in this way and get no relief is cruelty beyond words.
It is not living.
It is not dying.
It is living in the worst kind of hell, where you cannot understand anything, be comforted by anyone or find any joy.
Dying would surely be a better option.
Win has suffered enough and is tragically trapped in a body shell that no longer works or wants to exist.
We retire from the room not feeling relief but complete despair and utter helplessness.
I can bear it no longer and my tears fall.
I am temporarily inconsolable.
Help is at hand and a reassuring hug and tender touch enable me to compose myself and support those around me.
With little success.
Driving away we escape the distress but the images we have borne witness to are trapped within us and will haunt us for the months to come.

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