Earlier this week I was not feeling very well and was desperate for Chicken Curry and Roti. But all I had the energy for was to make myself a Cheese and Tomato Toasted Sandwich. I guess I should be grateful that I at least had the ingredients in the house to make that.
Forced to rest in bed gave me lots of time to think, which is not always a good thing as my close friends would know……What struck me most was the solitariness of human beings in modern society. I live within shouting distance of at least 4 houses with phone numbers for at least two of them. Yet I did not feel I could ring either of them up and say “I am sick in bed, can you please come over a little while”. Equally there were other friends a short drive away and a quick call or a text message would have brought them over with some food. But I know that they all have stuff going on in their own lives and hated the thought of bothering any of them. Those related by blood could only find it in themselves to voice their disapproval that I had sent my son off to his dad’s house for another night so I could get some extra sleep. There was only one other person who knew I was unwell and he kept tabs on me over the worst of it via text to make sure I had everything I needed and that was my only connection with the outside world. On Wednesday other than speaking to the PAs of my two doctors to try and get appointments, I did not see or speak in person to anyone else.
Like going hungry in the midst of plenty; total isolation in the midst of many you could say. Never before had I understood the distinction between the words “loneliness” and “aloneness”. The latter I gather is not a proper word, but I see that as a distinctly different condition to loneliness. I was not lonely over the time I was stuck at home, but I felt alone. I knew my condition was temporary and that as soon as I was better, I could go back to not being alone anymore. However, it did open my eyes to the stark reality that the older I get the more alone I would be and the realisation that for a lot of my neighbours on this street, it is their current reality. I at least had time to think about what I wanted to do about it, but for them it was too late. They had spent their younger years looking after their families and being actively involved in society, but now when their bones protested they did not want to get out of bed in the morning and all they wanted was a cup of tea in bed, the only person that could make that particular dream come true was themselves.