Holidays have been cancelled, days taken off work at short notice and graduations missed. Reserved train seats have coursed through the countryside towards London, cold and empty.
My mum isn’t well. Normal life is on hold.
The boy and the baby are at nursery more than usual. I’ve quickly realised that looking after them while my mind is on something else entirely isn’t fair on them. Or me. So while they’re busy making sticky pictures to adorn the kitchen cupboards or playing in the sun with their friends, I can be with mum. Some evenings I’ve been jumping in the car as soon as Mr B is home to go and see her. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
She’s doing incredibly well, especially considering that it’s just a month since she was giving me the full Florence Nightingale treatment after I’d had my wisdom tooth out. Making me scrambled egg, checking I’d taken my painkillers, insisting I had a mid-afternoon nap. In hindsight I think I might have made a bit of a fuss about it (it’s healing nicely, thanks for asking).
Now it’s our turn to try to look after her, and it transpires that we’re not a family of natural nurses. If we were quizzed on what meds she needs to take and when, for example, I’m not sure any of us would get full marks. Thankfully she is – as always – on top of things, so we’re off the hook for the time being.
In our defence, I think we’re playing to our strengths. One of my brothers – an amazing cook – makes sure she’s eating the right stuff. My other brother’s a doctor and has been brilliant at sorting out all the medical admin. They must think I’ve got it easy: I get to lie in bed with her and watch Corrie, eating silly snacks and gossiping while someone else looks after my children.
But none of this is easy.
I might have known things were going too well: it’s been a lucky couple of years for our family, with new arrivals and happy coincidences that have brought us all to live closer together at last. We were all enjoying having more time with each other, being able to drop in on each other unannounced for a cup of tea or bump into each other in the street.
But now this.
We’ll get through it, I’m sure of that. We’ve got meetings to go to and plans to make, but together we’ll work out a way to get out the other side. There’s a holiday by the sea to look forward to, an autumn schedule of Scandi-dramas to devour and a big family Christmas to plan. In the meantime, normal life is on hold.