Thirty odd years ago:
We were living in Barnet, in North London. Shaun had been two years a curate. Serena was one and a half.
That autumn I was working with a theatre company in York, going home at the weekends. I was filling the place of an actor on maternity leave... not telling them, at my audition, that I was quite a lot more pregnant than she was. Thus, I carried Bink, at seven months’ unborn age, as I flitted about as the fairy on top of the Christmas tree in a children’s show, singing carols and touring and striking and building sets each day as small companies do.
All this seems relevant to Bink, somehow.
Everything about Serena’s pregnancy and infancy was calm and uneventful and as it should be. Serene. (Well, apart from, as she’s reminded me, a bike accident and broken collar bone which had me flat on my back for three weeks.)
Bink’s, wild and whacky.
She always was.
A couple of weeks or so before it was due I asked, idly, What shall we call the baby? Serena being Serena, at nine months of age she had said, “dog” quite clearly, seeing a spaniel on Wimbledon Common.
But, not yet two, she still spoke a lot of scribble.
“Bink?” I echoed her verbal doodle back at her.
It would do. Until we knew the baby’s real name, it would do for girl or boy.
On Wednesday I was due in the West End with Helen, my oldest friend. I can’t remember why I thought the baby might be born that night. I just remember Helen telling me, laughing, not to risk it.
Bink was born as she did everything: fast and furious. Less than two hours, there she was. And already I knew her well enough to know it should have been a leap year. She should have been born two hours into 29th February.
The kind of person she was. Even then. Already.
Over three decades ago.
Soon we called her Lara, for her laughter, long before she was old enough to smile. That’s who she was.
She never thought, we never thought, she would be thirty and no job, no family of her own, no children or husband even.
“Have despatched gift,” emailed Phil, one of the score of friends who pray for her. “Considered a cake with a file baked into the sponge; but was worried the resulting iron oxide might not work with the frosting. .”
The thought of Bink patiently, assiduously, determinedly filing her way out of the life she has been trapped in for far too long will keep me going for a while. Perhaps till Easter, when perhaps she will be home.
I arranged flowers and cake and chocolate, with Priti’s Petals.
We are with Shaun’s family in Ireland to celebrate a double birthday. In his brother’s vicarage.
Yesterday evening, telephone call, Bink unable to move or speak. Ambulance.
I misheard, and became almost hysterical. “Not medication! No medication! Don’t let them medicate her!”
I couldn’t move downstairs again for the party. Just bed. Early evening. Longing for Shaun. No energy to tell him.
He came to bed at last.
I need the radio. Something to listen to.
“I put your laptop on the floor, your side, in case it fell off the bed.” He went on reading.
For three quarters of an hour – listening to the church clock: the quarter, the half, the three quarters – I struggled for strength to reach it, open my eyes.
Slept at last.
Heard the one o’clock. And two. And four, five and seven.
Are you stiff? asked one sister-in-law. You seem confused, said another.
No. Just… no. Thanks.
This day next year.
God grant, with our prayers, that Bink will have health and a job and new friends.