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I’m sitting in mum’s empty hospital room, waiting for her and her bed to be wheeled back in. I had gone to work when she went into theatre, but I was so distracted and stressed I left after three hours. My dad rang up to find out how mum was and gave a disbelieving laugh when I said I didn’t know whether she was out of the operation or not. That made me anxious, so I came. And now I’m here.

She put on a brave face earlier. I could see she was terrified underneath, but she had a God-given calm. My heart feels stretched not knowing how or where she is. I know she’s in God’s hands but the waiting seems to expand and ooze and swamp my thoughts.

So I’ll describe the room instead. The private hospital is worlds away from where I was in the open heart surgery ward of the public hospital, even though they’re on the same block of land, just a little walk away from each other. There, the sense was of lino and rattling curtains on rails and machines going ping and dimly-lit misery. There, you heard the monotone of daytime television over the grunts and sighs and pathetic little moans of the other patients in your room.

Here, you step into a marble-floored lift to get to your ward. The walls of the rooms aare clean and painted in muted tones of lilac and olive. There is carpet on the floor and a bedspread on the bed. There is only one bed in the room and a private en suite as well.

“This is better than some motels,” Mum remarked when she first walked in. I’ll say. But they don’t give you a morphine clicker in a motel.

A porter appears at the door, and then she is there, groggy and diminished and smiling uncertainly from her bed. They wheel her into position and get her comfortable, and I see her bruised and strapped leg, a flash of tubes and drains and special bed socks before they tuck her away again. We hold hands. It’s good to have her back.

She holds up the morphine clicker.

“This is interesting…you can be a legitimate druggie.” She clicks it and a beep sounds. “Nothing’s happening.” Then, about ten seconds later she smiles. “Oh…there we go.”