The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Tag: mental health

My Man

Sarah ~ is working again, at his desk every morning, writing. I think, now, that his inspiration has come back, and he tells me how many words he’s managed to write very day, which he has not done for many months. I am pleased for him, and for us. During the autumn, after our visit to Berlin, he seemed to have lost any taste for his work.

There is more light in the afternoon, and this cheers him up. He’s started enjoying hanging the washing out on the line again, looking at the sky, whistling opera tunes to himself!

I speak with Helga at least once a week. She drove him to the coast yesterday, for a walk on the shore, and a chat, and to probe his spirits a bit. She said she did most of the talking, and that his observations were surprisingly relaxed. Helga tried to engage him on the subject of the role of the medical profession in the current crisis, one of her “serious” subjects. She hopes to get Julian interested enough to write a few articles on the subject. She says that he shows signs of taking an interest in other things than his own predicament, or what he sees as such. He tried the trick of calling her “Elga” again, and she ignored it. She’s positive about his chance of a prompt recovery now. But she says that I have to be attentive, and patient. He could relapse: his vulnerability to mood changes, or even the weather, is real. Helga also asked me about Jane, and whether we were seeing much of her. I wonder why she wanted to know. As a matter of fact, we don’t see much of Julian’s sister at he moment. She was lately at the Paris show, and she’s now in Moscow (again), next will be Shanghai.

Gabrielle has been more elusive. She was back to work after the New Year, and she’s travelling in Switzerland at present, doing some research for a book on romanche linguistics. I got a short email asking me if we were going back to the Tyrol this summer. I replied we had not yet talked about the summer. She knows of Julian’s state of mind at the end of last year, and she may be trying to encourage me to plan a trip early. When Julian fell ill, Gabrielle encouraged me to take him away from the city, and move to the mountains. But I was afraid of lack of medical assistance if things got out of hands.

As I write, Julian walks into the room: “Hey! Do you fancy going to the opera?”

“Marriage of Figaro is on,” he adds with his mischievous smile. “Anywhere, anytime…” I reply, and I mean it. Opera, and the sophistication of Coven Garden, suit us. Somehow I feel we are emerging from a tunnel. But I cannot remember how and when we entered it.

Later, we talk about Easter, Berlin, a trip to Paris, and the Tyrol. Slowly, I test my grip on him, on his mind, and he knows what I’m doing, and he’s willing, my man.

Image: courtesy K A M I L A  N O R A  N E T Í K O V Á at


Another him

Sarah ~

Masaako Sasamoto I went to see Julian everyday, all the time he was an in-patient at Helga’s clinic. For a long time he was deep in his reverie, almost totally absent, other than physically, and, even then, I sometimes wondered if it was really him.

One morning he recognised me, and tried to smile. Helga explained that the partial paralysis of his movements was a side-effect of the treatment, and that he would recover quickly. At the beginning I thought I’d made a terrible mistake by convincing him to follow this course, I feared he would not, ever, recover.

Helga and Gabrielle were constantly reassuring me. They said there was nothing untested in the treatment Julian was following. It was state-of-the-art, not experimentation. I wanted to believe them.

After several weeks my husband started talking again, reminiscing some pleasant holidays we had together, talking books, asking me about films I wished to go and see, being as his normal self as I had not seen him for a very long time. He was tiring quickly, and after a five or ten minutes conversation, he would suddenly turn silent again, and then fall asleep, eyes wide open.

A month later we walked in the park together, he wanted to know about Jane, who was to visit him on her return from China, the week after. I was pleased to see him more animated, with colours on his cheeks, and we joked about pumping him up, and him resuming his normal exercising.

When Jane came he seemed to be back to his normal being, as I watched the two of them talking as only two closed siblings can, the private jokes, the little flirting, the memories. The three of us decided to arrange to go to Berlin again soon, as soon as Julian would feel the strength to travel. This time we would take the slow route, by road. Jane said she would take a break, and forget about modelling and fashion. Her brother suggested we set dates and get ready at the next opportunity.

Two weeks later, after consultation with Helga, Julian was released to my care. Back to our home he seemed to be happy as a little boy who has found his toys again; he wanted me to take him to bed, straightaway, wanted to cook me a meal, open a bottle of champagne, sit near the fire with me. As Helga had instructed me, I asked him brutally, without waiting, as he was busying himself in the kitchen: “Tell me Julian, did you think of Melissa at all when you were at Helga’s?”

He turned to me, smiling an angel’s smile. “Darling, I know that Melissa was, will probably always be, a tremor of my imagination. Yes, she came to visit my mind a few times. But in truth, we should stop mentioning her, as I intend to forget.”

My husband’s words filled me with happiness.

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