It’s the people. It’s always the people.

I was fine, really. That fine that comes from not thinking and just getting on with all the practical things that need doing. The type of fine that you’ll realise years later was not fine at all, just broken pieces of you glued together by denial and practicalities. Until.

Until someone in the lift asks you how your Dad is doing, the kindness in their voice, and the words get stuck in your mouth as you try to decide what to say that is both true and non-committal to his future self when he comes back home, will he ever?, and your eyes begin to well up and you’ve got nothing in the form of an answer because you’re finally lost for words, instead you’re full of the tears you haven’t yet cried because.

‘He’s been better. We’re hopeful.’

I hear myself say it. These are facts. He has been better. We remain hopeful. Until I cry all the tears, I am hopeful. I’m refusing to cry all the tears because to me these would be admitting defeat. Losing hope. And I don’t want to lose hope. Not in the darkest hour, not in the darkest of moments, not until.

I hear myself say it. Hopeful. The tremble in my voice. Hopeful. The tears that run back inside as I look back up at our neighbours in the lift and say we’re hopeful. We are. They deliver their final blow of kindness, almost too much to bear, a hand in my shoulder, send him our very best, and I think my legs will fail me and my shoulder will shatter under the gentle pressure of kindness, but none of that happens, only figuratively. Hopeful.

We remain hopeful and hope can carry you almost as much as love can. And that is a lot. In the last six months, I’ve survived on love and hope, with a dash of chocolate. Who knew such an existence was a thing?

It’s the people, in the end. Always the people. The people who shake your faith and prop you up and give you a sense of the reality you colour in to make less grey. It’s the people.

I’m hopeful people will bring me back my Dad.


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