(To Ben last night:)
NO, I’M IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL. A MENTAL HOSPITAL!
I’m not sure why I should feel so encouraged.
She is depressed. Lonely. Worried.
Crashed midweek. Still low now.
And yet I am.
One thing I have learnt, almost above anything else in this rum business of having a mad daughter, is to trust my instincts. (Which is why I’m being such a bore about her name. My senses are SCREAMING!)
And my instincts are currently telling me to be happy about Bink. Even though she is – at the moment – not at all happy herself.
So let’s examine:
She is in treatment. Some of the best treatment in the world, presumably. If the renowned Priory can’t get her well, who can?
She is off meds. Finding it hard, with no painkillers in that turmoil of her tormented brain, but off them anyway.
And persevering. Admitted, she doesn’t have much alternative. She has a shrink too sensible to put her back on the dulling anæsthetics. And nowhere to live other than the four walls of her cell. But she is keeping going. There are plenty of ways she could have run away or sabotaged treatment if she wasn’t in it for the finish.
Talking to me. True, not wanting to see me, at the moment. But that’s ok. I don’t hear any antagonism when she tells me this.
Wanting to see her siblings. And Shaun. And turning to me for help. Which is what I’m for, apparently. (Sigh.)
Much, indeed, to be grateful for. Ben and Rose are seeing her this afternoon.
And tomorrow, if the plan holds, Shaun is picking her up to take her to church nearby. To make new friends.
Your feedback, kind reader, is that – confusing though the knitting pattern can be at times – you are interested in all the different yarns of our story. Not least because all of them lead back to Bink, in the end.
So there we were, that Monday evening in mid-February 2009, laughing ourselves witless because Shaun had just lost us a small fortune. But, come on: only part of the fortune at stake.
Not yet in the bag.
Pinky and Perky had to go back from the Brussels of our little cottage and get the deal past the parliament of the Parochial Church Council. Desperate though they were to sign and seal and be shot of us, there is a legal requirement that a PCC must have a week’s notice before an extraordinary meeting. (Remarkable that anyone knew the law, without Shaun active on the staff – he had twice been asked to take an illegal wedding during his time in that church – but apparently somebody did.)
So, a week to wait. And keep schtum about Shaun’s new post.
The next day, for reasons lost in the mists, we were in Cambridge. Visiting my parents.
Now that our worry had been alleviated, I could notice theirs scoured on their dear kind faces like cats’ scratches.
My father, bringing in the tea, bent down with care for us. My mother’s quiet, benign dementia lapping at the edges of her brilliant brain: her soul saying nothing, but bleeding anxiety for us. Where would we live? What would become of us?
How could we not tell them?
Suppose one of them died over the next few days, and they never learnt that Shaun had a new job at last?
Would I ever forgive myself?
But we had agreed. No one. Not a soul.
And our pact was for my parents more than anyone; far more than for any of us. We would survive: we knew that, now.
We had offered, twenty years earlier, to care for my parents in old age. A promise which, for the last four years, we had not been able to keep.