As soon as I walk through the front door I can hear the familiar theme tune coming from the lounge. "Did no one tell you life was gonna be this way? ..." I take off my coat and shoes, put my keys in the dish on the table and know that when I go in there Joey will be doing that cheeky smile: 'How you doin'?' Chandler will be emphasising certain words: 'Could that BE any more annoying?' and Rachel will have some impeccable hairstyle that everyone wants to copy.
Re-runs of Friends. How many times have we seen each episode? Literally dozens, yet it is one of those shows that can be watched, over and over again. It's been an integral part of recovery around here. Something amusing, something comfortable that doesn't need any effort to enjoy. I wonder if, in some way, knowing what is coming next is half of the appeal.
The patient is laying in her usual place, cushions plumped up behind her, quilt across her lap, magazines, phone and glass of water in easy reach on the coffee table. I see that the painkillers are still in the same place I left them. A good sign; when she was first discharged from hospital she was taking the maximum dose at the most frequent intervals. She's like me, we do not take painkillers unless we absolutely have to and so the fact that they have been untouched means that things are bearable today.
When she arrived in this world 27 years ago as a 5lb 10oz baby she was so tiny and so fragile; I felt an overwhelming urge to take care of her and protect her as best I could. She's taller than me and a grown woman now, yet I still feel those strong maternal feelings of needing to put right anything that hurts her.
She turns to look over her shoulder 'Oh hi Mum. How was work?' 'Well, really busy but not too bad.' I reply. She doesn't need to know that I was begrudging every minute I spent there, checking my phone regularly, anxious to get home to check up on her. 'Cup of coffee?' She smiles and nods and I go into the kitchen, back into protective Mum mode. Secretary in a school office may be the job I'm paid to do, but my real vocation is here at home.
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