It was three Winters ago that Death came calling. We hadn’t met before which may be why I didn’t recognise her and so duly let her in. Perhaps her visit was long overdue. Considering.
At first she was an unobtrusive guest. She made no demands and was very quiet. Occasionally though I’d hear her singing softly to herself. Day or night. Actually especially in the night. I couldn’t make out the words but the melody intrigued me.
I don’t think anyone else noticed her there. Sometimes I’d obliquely refer to her to check if others could see or hear her too. Perhaps hum her tune a little. But nothing seemed to rouse recognition.
Once though someone asked me loudly “Do you have Death staying in your home?” and I was roughly startled. I didn’t want to betray her. She seemed so benign. “No, of course not” I lied. And that was that.
But then I approached. It was on a short dark day when the winds were howling. After a vicious night. My hands ached to 11 out of 10. My knees and hips too. I could feel again my skeletal frame moving with a torturous grind.
My arms wouldn’t lift to wash my hair or to pour some tea. My legs couldn’t bear the weight of clothes and the pressure of air. My eye twitched. My jaw cracked. Pain ricocheted. Muscles throbbed. My addled mind was full of fog and forgetting.
I just wanted to ask about her song.
She sang it for me. Sitting under the window in my room. On the floor with the curtains fluttering and the grey clouds looming. She sang a whisper song of release. Promises of sleep. Resting long and deep. As soothing as a lullaby…you don’t need to suffer anymore…there is a way…
But then I heard the sound of our car arriving and little legs running and the door banging open and “Mum! Mum! Where are you?” and three bursts of everything tumbled in. One suddenly on my lap. One talking so loudly about so much I couldn’t help smile. And the other kissing my cheek whilst chanting “mum mum double yum”.
He soon followed with his eyes full of “how are you faring my love” and a takeaway cup in his hand. “We brought you a coffee just in case”.
I was one of the lucky ones. The there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I fortunate few. I know that to my bones.
For the siren song of suicide finally let me be after a battle that hidden warriors know too well. And I recognise her voice now so won’t open my door to her again and will try not to sing along. But that Winter was bitter and far far too long.