I remember her biting wit, her intelligence, her brisk kindness. I hadn’t seen her in over twenty-five years. The other day, I heard her voice and saw her face from the end of the operating table. She was about to be anaesthetised for surgery. I was the surgical assistant.
I tried not to stare but her eyes kept scanning my face, despite the staff who were busying around her. I think she sensed I was someone she’d once known, but couldn’t place me. She was being given sedation and I knew she wouldn’t recall any conversation from that point onwards. It wasn’t the time to speak of the past – she had enough to deal with in the present. Within minutes, she was given the thick white liquid that sent her into oblivion.
I told the surgeon of my long-ago link with the patient, and although she knew some of her patient’s life story, I filled in a few more details. Mostly, how much her patient was respected and admired. She had sass, she had smarts and I thought she was the ants pants.
Wish I could have told her so.
I really did it. Quit my job, walked away. Left a perfectly respectable position that gave me status, respect and good pay to try something for which I have little training and dubious aptitude. Sometimes I can hardly believe what I’ve done. Thank goodness I have a small part-time job in the pipeline and a supportive husband!
Strangely, I’m not sad. If anything, I’m a little relieved. I think I was ready to move on. But with the relief there is also a huge fear – the fear of failure, fear of mediocrity, fear that I’ll find myself floundering and uncertain and rudderless as a writer. I’m trying to sit with that fear. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. That sort of thing. I figure this is all normal.
I’ve started a couple of stories since the big change. Both seemed like good ideas when I began but withered, mid-story. I’m unsure whether to persevere and see what they’re like once completed or whether to cut my losses. The usual writer’s dilemma, I suppose. I tell myself that all writing is good practice, whether the story ends up being ‘a winner’ or not.
Guess I’ll go see what I can do with those dodgy stories now …