Early to mid-summer 2015
It was. That summer. A yo-yo-ing between Gatsby and home.
It still puzzles me why she kept going back. She admitted quite openly that the relationship was bad for her.
At home, then, we could see her getting better by the week. The day, sometimes.
No more mutism. No more breakages.
One day she became angry or panicked – is there a difference, in Bink’s case? – with me. We had started letting rooms in our house out on Airbnb, and sometimes there was much work to be done, many beds to make, in a hurry, before guests arrived.
Bink didn’t like it: lodgers tramped past her room and disturbed her when she was trying to sleep.
She blocked my way on the stairs.
Lara, I need to get past, please.
I went downstairs and up the other stairs.
She moved and blocked that staircase.
Bink is smaller than I am. I could easily have pushed her out of the way. I judged she’d probably had quite enough of that treatment in a different household, when there was deadlock.
Lara, you are bullying me.
No, I’m not.
I need to get past, and you are preventing me. That is bullying behaviour. You are not letting me do what I need to do.
I need you.
That’s as may be. But you don’t get your needs met by forcing other people. I have needs too.
I need you to stop and listen to me.
I say it again. You are bullying me. And currently I need to get past.
And Bink suddenly burst into tears. Desperate, terrified tears. Of sheer panic.
(Once when the children were little and in the back of the car, Bink was being completely impossible. Dangerously so. So disruptive and difficult it was impossible to drive. Eventually I pulled into a lay-by, turned around and smacked her leg.
She was so shocked, she burst into tears.
And suddenly, the air cleared. The dam burst and the waters were free to flow. She was able to tell me what she needed, the matter was resolved and we could drive on.
I still remember the guilt I felt, that her tears brought such relief.)
We arranged to sit down and talk about her needs when I had finished making all the beds.
No more bullying.
How had they been living, that this had become a matter of course.
We were having lunch with friends in our conservatory.
Will you get me voluntary work? she said.
So delighted I was, that by the next morning half a dozen nursery schools were interested in having her helping out; one had offered her a definite role.
All she had to do was pick up the telephone.
As soon as it became possible, she backtracked and said she wasn’t ready.
And the next day her body was seized by a total rictus. I can’t remember how I found her but she was frozen on her bed, fingers jutting out like rocks, her corpse in rigour mortis, unable to speak or move.
Ohh! Had I still not learnt that doctors can do so much more harm than good? I asked if wanted one. She seemed to motion agreement.
In case I missed the visit, I put a large note on the bed.
Do not give this patient medication.
The doctor who came was one I trusted – still, in those days – so I offered her tea and showed her up and left her to it.
And hour later Bink came down.
All she had needed was attention. Saying the doctor had advised her to go back to Gatsby.
What could we say?
What she needed even less that Gatsby was what the doctor had given her.