Had a lazy day at home today. I’m still struggling with awful insomnia, averaging 2-3 hours’ sleep a night. I’m taking St John’s Wort so hoping that will kick in soon and let me sleep.
Husband had work and DIY to do so I had planned to take the children into town (I have new paintings to drop at Art in the Heart) but Aaron was in full stomping NO territory and it just didn’t happen. I didn’t actually manage to get him dressed until 10.30am and then I forgot to make sure he was ‘pointing down’ in his nappy so had to change his entire outfit an hour later when he peed all over it at the lunch table.
The only thing I managed to do all day was pull together a 50-page partial manuscript to send to an agent who had requested it (for Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes ironically) and I only managed that by sitting the kids in front of the TV for an hour and ignoring shouts of “come sit with me Mummy.”
I feel like this is a good opportunity to reset the balance and fess up. In case anyone thinks I’m some kind of super-mum because my kids do craft and baking and go to the Farm and the Zoo: I only do those things to survive. I get bored if I can’t do something creative from time to time (hence painting and craft), I go crazy if I’m stuck in the house with them for more than two hours together (hence Zoo/Farm) and some days the only way not to yell is to be out in public where I’m likely to try harder to keep my mouth shut! Sometimes my kids beg to spend the day at home and I just can’t. I look at the clock and see twelve LONG hours until bedtime. Driving to the supermarket uses an hour up just in the car there and back. A trip to the Farm eats into three or four, maybe even five if they sleep on the way home.
Today, though, I was too tired to even drive. I lay in the paddling pool with them and read stories. I sat on the sofa with them for two hours after lunch while Aaron fell asleep watching Peppa Pig and Amber played on the iPad. I managed to crawl off the sofa and build Lego with Amber while Aaron slept some more (I never normally let him sleep for more than an hour as it makes bedtime hard, but today he slept for 2-3 hours). So, no super-mummy in this house! Just a normal SAHM getting on and getting by.
I went to bed last night without even starting my post. I think the insomnia might be partially due to using my creative brain from 8pm to midnight and then expecting it just to switch off. Also I’ve been working hard at Twitter and my mind flashes like a strobe light with all the snippets of information. Time to take a step back and let the brain rest.
Even so, I wrote two pages of notes just as I lay down in bed last night as I had the next post floating in my brain. Typical, as normally I have no idea what is going to happen to Claire next. I guess leaving her hanging off a cliff as it were does help the creative flow! Kids had me up every two hours between them so actually I needn’t have worried about setting myself up for a good night’s sleep! Thankfully it’s Saturday (hurrah!) and they’re watching TV with Daddy this morning so I can play catch up.
The Skoda closed in around Claire like a coffin. She looked out across the damp, grey Castlefield car park and wondered how far she could run before he caught her. This has gone from Miss Marple to bloomin Diagnose Murder. Her brain screamed Get out of the car before you’re next. Her body remained stubbornly glued to the plastic seat, all control over her muscles gone. Josh sat mute and still, the echo from his words still reverberating round them.
Claire inhaled slowly, filling her lungs with the scent of smoke and fear. It calmed the racing thoughts and brought her logic to the fore. Killed a child. Not murdered a child. An accident. Maybe he ran a child over or something. It doesn’t make him a bad person.
She wanted to ask but was afraid to hear the answers. She forced her head to turn and face him and the sight of his slumped body, of the tears dribbling down his stubbled cheek, drove everything but sympathy from her mind.
The words made them both jump; her voice sounded impossibly loud in the silence.
Josh began to speak, slowly at first, then faster and faster as the pent-up words rushed forth like a burst riverbank.
“It was a patient. A child. The same age as my eldest. The young children are the hardest. They’re so accepting of their fate. So cheerful. Uncrushable.” He paused as if trying to decide where to start. “I missed something. I should have ordered a test and I didn’t. I was cocky, I was sure. My Registrar overruled me and ordered the test but it was too late.”
Claire felt her stomach twist and her breathing speed up. She forced herself to listen without comment.
“The parents were so…. nice. Accepting. They’re worse than the ones that rail and rant. They thanked me. Thanked me. For doing everything I could to save their child. But I didn’t. I failed them. I missed something.” He ran his hand through his hair and sighed loudly. “There’s this fear, when you’re a doctor. It keeps you awake at night. Did I do something wrong? Have I done everything I can? It’s good. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you focussed. But I’d lost the fear. We had a new baby at home and there wasn’t much sleep.”
How many kids has he got, Claire thought but pushed the irrelevance aside.
“I was trying to help Fiona, trying to be a good father. Sick kids just make me want to hold mine tightly and never let go. But I keep thinking, was my judgement impaired? The inquest cleared me but, in my heart, eating me up like the cancer that killed that child, I’m to blame.”
“But if they cleared you?”
Josh turned suddenly, his skin mottled and red. He leant towards her and shouted, the words raking at her like claws. “You don’t get it. I blame me. Every night I see that tiny face, those enormous eyes gazing into mine. The mother looking to me for answers, certain she would find them. And I failed them. I let their child die.” He slumped back into the car seat and dropped his head into his hands. His words were muffled. “I had to leave. I couldn’t look at my own children any more. I don’t deserve them.”
Emotions swam around Claire like darting fish. Gut-wrenching sympathy, confusion, panic at Josh’s outburst. Mostly she felt sorrow. Sadness for Josh and his pain. Distress for the family who lost their child. Grief at her own insignificant meaningless life. How could I ever stress about clients and deadlines, about Carl and getting sacked? It was all pointless. No one will die if I don’t do a good job.
She reached across and stroked the side of Josh’s hand, unable to find any words of comfort that wouldn’t sound paltry and pathetic. She wanted to tell him he would always be one of the good guys. That working to save lives, even if he didn’t always succeed, was a noble thing. That Fiona was lucky to have him for a husband and his children needed their Daddy back. Her throat remained closed and all she could do was send silent support.
She thought about Fiona, left with at least two children to care for, wondering where her husband was. Getting on a plane to fly half way round the world, just her and the children. And I worry about taking Sky in a hostel for a week. Honestly girl, you’re pitiful.
Claire dredged her mind for the right words. Her job was all about finding the right phrase but her brain remained blank. In the end there was only one thing to say.
“Let’s go get drunk.”
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