I’ve not seen A for a while. I’m trying to remember the last time, and if the conversation I recall having some time ago was face to face or over the ‘phone.
But late last night I got a text from Nicola telling me A is in hospital and giving me the directions should I wish to see her. Nic said A had been very unwell, so I sent off another text saying I’d like to come and visit and when would suit.
Further texts from Nic made me realise the extent of very unwell. Dying. Cancer, though what type I do not know. Maybe that does not matter.
No reply from A to my text, but today a flurry of exchanged messages with Nic who had been to see her and found it hard. Near the end was a phrase she used in one of these messages. I brought forward my plans from Wednesday to tomorrow.
She has good and bad days, explained Nic. Apparently today was a bad day.
Tonight my ‘phone rang. A’s name flashed up. Hello A, I said. A man’s voice answered, slightly embarrassed. A friend. He passed the ‘phone to A and she spoke to me. Her voice was flat, devoid of expression. Maybe she is drugged? This woman who was always so full of life. Bright eyed and bushy tailed might have been coined to describe her. A’s delight in the world, her strong voice, resounding tones, the way she would greet you at work in the morning as you rushed from photocopier to pigeon hole, gathering and dispensing information with, Isobel! I’ve written a poem. Here, you must read it!
Her poetry won prizes, but she didn’t stop with the written word. She developed a passion for photography, and won prizes for that too. I have a folder of her poems, and a framed print of one of her pictures in my flat. She was enthusiastic, forthright, warm and encouraging.
If you like King’s Place in London, A is one of the people you need to thank. She campaigned relentlessly to save historic parts of the district and to make sure there was an artistic, community hub at the end of the regeneration.
I don’t know how old she is. She always said that she would not tell people her age because when you do, you are defined by it.
I can’t say I am looking forward to tomorrow’s visit. I want to see A, but this might be the last time, and I had hoped for more conversations, more time in her company.
It shouldn’t be like this.