Bedside it’s not a word used very often and when it is…. its usually with an additional word like lamp, table, or manner.
I have sat at many bedsides, usually with someone I love dearly, in unusual circumstances sitting in a space that is not routinely occupied.
The beds are usually the same clinical with white guards at the side with rails but infrequently they are “normal “beds.
The beds are usually in rooms, usually in rooms that are isolated, but not always sometimes they’re in the shared spaces, less usually they are at home in place of familiarity and comfort.
The chairs at the bedside are usually found in different colours and sizes but always infection control compliant, engendering a compliance in the occupant a sense of knowing your place.
The occupants of the beds whose bedside I have sat at have been different, old, younger, long illness, short illness, expecting imminent death or being surprised by an unexpected visit from the grim reaper.
All occupants have been people I loved and have spanned over 50 yrs, sitting at the bedside knowing there is no chance of recovery; no return ticket; just a one way single to a destination we all reach but no one wants to head for.
On the television the tooting of Casey Jones “steaming and a rollin” on the cannonball express, a woman frail and white in the bed making me a toy,
Tubes, wires, machines, and beeping; a man warm and breathing but brain dead.
An older peoples ward a woman with blue hands struggling for breath one last gulp then gone.
A living room full of the detritus of a long life, ornaments, photos, and familiarity singing about a trip to Blackpool and the love for his family.
An emergency admission not planned for; a woman left late at night at one bedside and on return It was a different bedside a woman lying cold and dead in a side room.
Four different bedsides over 33 days, only occupied for a short time but occupied in trauma; in love: in connection; in a special unforgettable and poignant experience.Life changing and affirming in room 24; a room of sadness, trauma, joy, love, and a special connection made at the point of surrender.
The most recent bedside in a care, home, and older lady, reaching the end of her life, surrounded by the people who cared for her for such a long time, safe and supported.
Today as I leave the house, I know I will be sitting at another bedside occupied by a beloved woman who has known me for all of my 59 years.
One of the people who has always been there; has also occupied the bedsides and lives of all of the people I have loved and lost, who has always been there for me.
As I sit at her bedside, I reflect on her courage, determination, love, and spirit, which had ebbed away over the last 12 months with the devastation of dementia. But I think of the glorious, magnificent, and majestic woman who was present for the previous 91 years and who had always been in my life.
It’s a sad bedside to sit at but as I do I think of the all the wonderful trips and times all the laughs and love …. she recently told the nurses that was her friend she certainly has been mine.
Tomorrow I will get up and sit again at her bedside until she needs me no more.
In memory of Margaret Myatt 1931 – 2024