Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn
We spent a few days visiting and being as helpful and cheerful as we could be. All our meals were eaten at a table in the small downstairs room where a hospital bed has been installed. Three times a day we ate at the wooden table parallel to her bed. We ate together because eating together is what we all love to do. We ate and we talked. Sometimes she was a part of the conversation and sometimes she just ate and maybe she listened. A fire was burning in the fireplace all day and all night. When the five of us sat at the table, there was always one person on the bed side in order to hand things to her in the bed or to take things away when she was finished. We left a space at the table on the long side beside the bed for her even though she cannot sit at the table. Two people were sort of squeezed together at each end. It was much too hot to sit on the other long side because of the fire. While we were there she ate small portions of everything that we ate. She ate boiled eggs and toast. She ate tiny blinis and caviar and she ate cod with aioli and potatoes. She ate fish soup and she ate a pig’s cheek vindaloo. She ate fresh pineapple cut into chunks and she ate olives. She drank sparkling water with lime squeezed into it and she drank coffee. She drank red wine from a small glass which was just right for her no longer strong hands. There was no sense that her food should be different or anyhow special. Food is not going to save her life. She loves all the flavours but bread and butter remains a favourite. She claps her hands with delight whenever bread is buttered for her. At moments she is wonderfully lucid and then sometimes she is not. A nurse visits in the morning and in the early evening. The nurse sends everyone out and she washes and does the things that nurses need to do for people who are dying and cannot leave bed. She speaks fluent French with the nurse and with the Corsican doctor when he visits. She switches back to English easily. Her comprehension and use of two languages is not impaired. Sometimes she babbles and sings and speaks nonsense. Sometimes she is off in her own world. It was dreadful to say good bye and to recognize the finality of our goodbye but that is what we did. What else could we do.?