You always wish a quick, unlingering death for those you love. If pain is the unwanted companion on the final stretch, it is best persuaded that its tenure will only be temporary; no hanging around and effect. This is what I was thinking when I sat at the side of my mother as she lay dying.
She had gone into hospital in the middle of May. Another lockdown was being drawn to a close and the polical leaders of the day were basking in the triumph of a job well done. People were still catching the virus and many were still dying. In the meantime, new variants were mutating and crossing borders with astounding ease. At this stage, it would be appropriate to blame the government, but across the world mistakes were being made – it was just that the mistakes made in these circumstances could have been avoided without the hubris that was evident in everything that our government had done. During the election that swept them to power, a bright spark had decided that the electorate, a major part of them, could be asked to appeal to their own selfish instincts and all that was needed was simple repetition of words and ideas. I would hate to say that the general population was not that stupid, yet I would be wrong; they were. So, every time one of the members ofthe cabinet was interviewed by the state body that had swallowed the Media, the repetition of the successful vaccine roll-out was mentioned – again and again as if it was a mantra that would drive away the evil that had settled upon the kingdom. And it worked. So, culpability was shared and my mother was to die as a result.
There were so many sacrifices during this time and most of them were older people. There was an inevitability about death when it was mentioned in connection to these older members of society. When any member of this group died, it was thought that they had lived their lives and served their purpose. They had been lucky to have lived in such decent times for so long – they would have died anyway, sooner or later. That was the thing with people, suddenly they were all pragmatic, able to forgive our government for doing as little as was possible whilst taking credit for the endeavours of others. The NHS became a charity case. No longer an essential public service, free at the point of entry, it was a devoted group of heroic combatants who were willing to risk their lives for the greater good; they were patriots. Each night we were encouraged to stand vigil and to pay our respects to the brave workers fighting the battle on the hospital front. Each night, the grim figures of deaths were released whilst each day there was an inflation of a very apparent national ego, a pride that suggested that this coming together would result in a great and final victory against whatever threatened our collective lives. And those threats were being multiplied; and not all of them were from the virus.
And so my mother and many others like her were abandoned and left to deal with whatever death was waiting in the wings.