I am an amateur in comparison to many.
My limited experience of hospital stays means that I have yet to make sense of the many intricate routines and relationships that exist on the oncology ward. However, it is a world that I am getting to know and respect.
One thing that I do know is that there is an abundance of time. There is nothing, nothing to distract me from the expanse of time. No pottering, organising, coordinating, sorting; nothing. Just me, Felix and time; at the moment at least 72 hours.
As I sit here now and watch my beautiful boy watch his third film in a row, I think about this ‘quality time’ we have. As a millennial Mum, I have often heard the term ‘quality time’ banded around. The idea that our children should have 1:1 time with a parent to engage in ‘meaningful’ activities. I cannot really say it is something I have had the pleasure of, but as a mum of three, the niggle about whether my children have enough ‘quality time’ has always been there. Yet, here we are with at least 72 hours of quality time ahead of us, and Felix is in bed watching another film.
The ‘quality time’ niggle is shouting at me, in my head, telling me that I should be engaging in meangful activities with him. I consider a game of Uno or noughts and crosses; I think about reading with him or maybe writing a poem with him that explores his inner most feelings. I look at him again and ‘lo and behold’ he is no longer watching a film but now gaming. We both sit here with the expanse of time stretching ahead leading a solitary existence without words. And do you know what, it’s good.
It’s good because it gives Felix the chance to forget about the pain of the day; the pain that he still managed to smile through. The walk with his IV stand to theatre past strangers who stared, the fear as he looked up at unfamiliar faces just before he went to sleep and the knowledge that as he woke he had to lay still and flat to make sure the chemo swilled around his brain. So, in our little world right now, quality time has no meaning. Instead, time allows him to process, make sense of it all and forget. If that means zoning into the works of Pixar or playing goat simulator so be it.
In fact, I will no longer be subject to the mighty grip and the guilt inducing force of ‘quality time’. It’s being banished forever. How we choose to spend our time is up to us. If we want to sit in front of the TV all day we will, if we want to climb a mountain we will. We will because it means we will be liberated from the expanse of time the hospital ward affords.