The morning breeze is refreshing after the oppressive warmth of the hospital ward. John pushes my wheelchair slowly along the path towards the park. He doesn’t speak; I guess he can’t just yet, can only reach down and squeeze my bony-thin shoulder at regular intervals.
The hum of traffic seems distant, surreal, as though in another dimension, not here with me in face-slapped reality. My oncologist just delivered the results of my latest tests. Efforts to stem the tumour’s growth have failed; it has grown. There’s another trial, but… Churlishly, I wonder if the last drugs were a fertiliser for cancer like the seaweed solution I use on my beloved plants.
Oh, how I long to see my garden again. It’s been weeks, a prisoner in my hospital bed, waiting, hoping, praying, longing…alternating between optimism and resignation ten times a day. It seems it’s all been for nothing. I’ve missed the winter snowdrops, the spring daffodils, fragrant freesias and bluebells, and now conceivably this summer could be my last chance to inhale the glorious perfume of my favourite of all…honeysuckle.
John speaks at last, tells me we should return to the hospital but I shake my head and point to a track we’ve never taken before. It’s overgrown, a wild contrast to the regimented exactness of the rest of the park with its perfectly mown lawns, dead-headed roses and precisely trimmed hedges. I see rubble, perhaps remnants of a house that once stood there, a tall oak tree and…honeysuckle, rambling over a crumpled picket fence.
John wheels me over the rough ground and I sit beside it, inhaling the perfume and letting it replenish my soul. John squeezes my shoulder again and I reach up to clasp his hand.
I’m going to try the new drug, I tell him. I want to give every last ounce of my being for the chance to have some time with my grandchild, due next month, and to breathe the scent of honeysuckle, at least for one more summer.
John smiles, kisses my cheek and we turn back to the hospital.
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