It’s Christmas Day. I’m in hospital about half an hour away from my parents. I’m in the small visiting room. On the squat table sits a cardboard box of presents wrapped in black and white cat wrapping paper. I am taking fat fistfuls of Mark’s expensive fruit and nut selection and cramming them into my mouth. We have an hour and a half with each other before we have to go and the next family is allowed in, since my parents never go on the actual ward. There’s a healthcare assistant sitting in the doorway. Kicking her legs bitterly. Like she has been given the shit job.
This Christmas I will not be allowed to go to church. My parents show me through the presents like a walk in a beautiful forest. One by one, each a little piece of love. soft felt slippers, pink and gray, a self-soothe box full of sensory toys, a 5 seconds of summer coloring book (Staples carefully removed), nail varnish remover pads to be used under careful supervision (except they weren’t.) and my beautiful dog coming into the secure garden for snuggles. I do not even have a grounds leave so this is a huge treat.
Christmas dinner will not be a family affair. Most of the other children are at home but I am taken back to the unit after my designated time is up. I am wearing my emerald green marks and spencers jeggings and my new slippers as I trudge back through the airlock, arms full of goodies, most of which will have to be locked away. My tummy is full of fruit and nut mix and my mood is somewhat stable and that is my first Christmas in hospital.