So this is it. The last day is over and by this time tomorrow he will be gone. My stomach has been turning tiny flips all day, involuntary spasms of nerves, imperceptible almost, but devastatingly effective at provoking the same violent ejection of contents as on that first night in hell.
We had planned a final roast dinner together, but none of us really have the heart to eat anything celebratory, let alone cook it and wash up afterwards. It pours with rain, we cuddle up on the sofa with cups of tea and watch Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice, which is a kind of family tradition as it always makes Rob and Okha cry. I join them today. Rob would be horrified that this guilty pleasure has been broadcast, but as he is unlikely to be reading this for several years I think I’ll risk the disclosure.
“I feel really sad today because it is the last day”, Tala says matter of factly to me. “I really want to cry but that would just make Daddy feel worse so I’m not going to.” Her stoicism astonishes me. I have to stay deadly present to survive the day. There is a sense in which I want to save myself the suffering of the parting by starting to mourn him already, as if I can get some of it out of the way; as if there is a finite amount of pain.
He is steadfast as always, joking and cuddling us, never faltering. At bedtime Tala delays infuriatingly. I want to hurry her: it will be an early start tomorrow, but how can I take this time away from her? She tosses and turns, finally putting the light back on to read and I hear the soft rustle of pages from where I type this, waiting as one of us always must for her to sleep.
I fuss over what to wear tomorrow. I think about looking “right” for the court: I want to look dignified, perhaps even elegant, but nothing that will fit over this raw distended stomach fits the bill and I opt for my favourite dress, a long vintage hippy affair that is much more in keeping with both my waistline and style (or lack thereof), and how I would like Rob to remember me. I pack Tala’s lunch for school, finish some laundry: Just everyday stuff that ought to stop on compassionate grounds but doesn’t. Okha gives Rob a final hug before bed. He holds her for a long time, longer than he has done for a long time during these tricky teenage years. They whisper things to each other which I can’t hear and don’t ask about.
Everything has come together somehow. Rob and Tala have been reading Stuart Hills ” Ice Mark” trilogy and they finish the final chapter today, the book Rob has finally decided on arrives, Okha is sent home from work early, the rain stops whilst we walk the dog for the last time. There is one final episode of the box set left and we will watch it whilst we wait for the (de)tagging lady to come. It is time.