Watching the Darkness – Not the evening I planned

I receive a text – “what time do you finish work”
It pains me to be honest with you but my first reaction was annoyance.

What? What now!? I have thoughts and plans for my evening.

I was going to swing by town and pick up a couple of things (coffee and nytol with a small measure of irony) and needed to swing by my old flat (or rather the shop near it) to pick up a card for an undelivered item which was a present for another friend.
Frankly, I felt swamped.

But, I had just left work so I replied, Now!
The next text came: Please can you come to me. I need you desperately. x
I started typing out all the things I needed to do first in the hope it was nothing serious that could get a raincheck. Then I stopped and looked at the text again. Desperately. That wasn’t one of our words that we used with each other. That was a strange word… it stood out to me. It meant something was wrong.
I just texted back, OK.
I was on the bus when I read the message “don’t be clucking. I’ll be fine but I need you”
Don’t be clucking?! Well I wasn’t before that message!!
Now I knew something was wrong and my mind started running through the options – sadly far too many – as I replied that I’d be there as soon as I could.

“Please don’t hate me or be cross. I’m sorry! I’ll be fine tho”
Now I was panicking.
My mind raced back to when they’d stepped out in front of the bus. Surely it couldn’t be something like that? They’d been telling me all their plans, how they were turning having to leave college into a positive, how they was doing better, surely it couldn’t be like May?
I knew I couldn’t bear anymore of these texts, so I replied to just wait till I got there and we could talk.

When I arrived they were on the phone to another friend, or to someone on the end of the 101 number, I’m not sure, in floods of tears with a pile of medication boxes in front of them which they painfully tried to hide from me before realising what a silly move that was.

The reality of the situation hit me immediately and I sat on a chair quietly while they finished their call.
I schooled my face and placed my mind in the state it needed to be, calm, gentle, loving, supportive.
The other friend had already called the paramedics who arrived soon after. I was glad as this saved me the job of having to convince them that this needed to be done. I have no idea what is a dangerous amount of ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin to take and their protestations that they have a hearty constitution and could sleep it off were worrying me. They’d contacted me, that meant they didn’t want to do this.
The two paramedics were lovely, and I couldn’t help but notice some of the training – concentrating on just one step at a time not what the end result would be (a night in hospital), just detailing what was taken, then just drinking this drink, then just coming to the ambulance for blood pressure – not tricking or deceiving – just breaking it down into manageable steps.
I just tried to be as useful as possible at each step – filling in missing information, carrying a bag, putting the keys in the right place etc.

We joked about how sexy the charcoal drink made them look (“I’ve never wanted you more”), I duly sent some messages for them and spoke to their partner while they felt ever more nauseous from the charcoal and no doubt the pills.
I’ve never been inside an ambulance before and we were both surprised to find there was a catflap in there! It was apparently the vertical lid to a bin… but it looked exactly like the catflap my friends have that stop their cats going back out again after a certain time.

They was mostly horrifically embarrassed, wanted the ground to swallow them up – which married and mixed with the suicidal thoughts – didn’t want anyone to see them. They would ask me to contact people then change their mind.

I just tried to ride it all, gently reminded them of the last request made when asked about those requests.

They slowly accepted that she wasn’t going home immediately and I did my best to open up the thought that this could get the help so badly needed to get through this, that this wasn’t a sign of failure but a sign of the impossible load they were trying to carry all alone. A load that no one should have to bear. But it’s always easier to blame yourself for what other people do to you, and this weight is over three decades old.

I was made to leave after a while, and it felt like the thing to do at the time so I did.
Later I panicked though. Wondered if I’d just opened the gate for them to vanish and complete the job or not access all the help that might be available. I sent her a text as I was going to bed in the vain hope that it might help if my fears were true. I didn’t sleep much that night.

I woke to a facebook message that they were heading home in the early morning hours. I planned to see them as soon as I could after work.

The sun is shining and there were blue skies today. I hold tightly to a made up hope that this was a good sign.

I did mange to completely over estimate my ability to be at work and got there with enough Cope to let my department head know I wasn’t able to be at work that day (I’d left a message the night before to say I wouldn’t be able to be in at my usual time)

I spent a few hours with my friend at their home, we talked and while I will never know what the future holds, they are here and alive and I just hope to keep it that way.

To you in this post – if you want me to take this down I will. As ever I share these things in case it helps someone but it’s not my wish to cause you embarrassment.

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