By Joe Ribton
There are three clouds that hang over my bed when I go to sleep. A triptych painted by my mum, hanging vertically on the wall behind my headboard. I go to sleep and they mark out the path of my mind as it escapes up the wall and out between the cracks. I left my bed 8 days ago and the three clouds came with me, I haven’t been able to shake them since. They are pearled white, tarnished with grey, on a midnight blue sky. I feel their weight on my mind, making me tired, making me sad. I’ve worked myself fairly hard in the last week, I’ve taken on more than I have realised. Tokens from Marc have proven to be an easy way of keeping busy. I’m on three so far and feel proud that I’m finally producing things worth sharing, but it’s all a distraction. The relentless nature of this course is such that you don’t have time to slow down, inside the church you are in a slipstream, a fast-track, and so everything outside of the course becomes much slower. Its like watching astronauts float around space and then try to resume walking on earth, you fall out of rhythm and things become protracted. 8 days ago I got out of bed and found out my grandfather had passed away during the night, and I don’t think I’ve processed it yet.
In many ways this was mercy, and we had each said our goodbyes in a very timely fashion. My grandfather had been in a home with dementia for several years. Before his diagnosis he was playful, childish at times, and always greeted me in his Lancashire accent with “Hey Joe, what do you know, just came back from the rodeo show”. He had an aversion to fruit, a love of cars, cricket and boiled sweets, and could never quite grasp that FIFA wasn’t real life. He lost his wife on my first day at SCA. The only consolation is that she didn’t have to see him go, and he could never fully comprehend that she had left. He has drifted away painlessly, and is free from the confusion and the stress that has affected him and the family around him. It was so long ago that he was healthy that I often struggle to recall what he was really like, before the symptoms began to show. All the times he would forget his keys, or leave something in the car and be toing and froing, aimlessly checking his jacket or his corduroy trousers – I was sheltered from the reality of his illness. However, he gave so much to his grandchildren, he spoilt us against our parent’s will. He would keep up with our jokes and demand we play board games, sit us in the front seat of whatever car he had traded the old one in for. He has suffered the loss of his great character, but now he is free. There’s no more waiting by the phone for my mum, my uncle and aunt. No more stressful weekend trips worrying whether he will remember the names of his children. No more paperwork deadlines or financial complexities. He is at peace, and a cloud has been lifted from over our heads. Perhaps in writing this down for all of you, I have helped lift the clouds from over mine.