Chapter Twenty Six
I was in John Lewis in Manchester when the my phone rang.
“Are you Mrs Sophie Smith?” The tone of voice slightly unnerved me. I was used to getting rid of cold callers who would probably ask a similar question but somehow I knew this was different.
“It’s the police. We need to contact Mrs Smith as a matter of urgency.”
“I’m Mrs Smith, what’s the problem?”
“Your husband has been involved in an accident.”
“Oh what sort of accident? Is he OK?”
“A serious accident, I’m afraid. He’s currently in Layton Hospital in Crewe. I think you should go there as a matter of urgency. I’m sorry to alarm you.”
The call hit me like ton of bricks and I just felt my legs give way beneath me. When I came to I was surrounded by people looking down at me concerned.
“I’m OK. I’ve just had some bad news.”
I was helped to my feet and given my shopping bags and they suggested I go to the cafe for a cuppa to calm me down before I did anything else. I couldn’t relax though and only managed to swallow half the hot tea before gathering my things and racing for the car. I was so flustered, first of all I couldn’t find my car fob, then I couldn’t locate the car park ticket – more haste less speed I said to myself.
I drove much faster than usual to the hospital, ignoring speed limits and not caring if I got caught. I don’t think I should have been driving at all. When I arrived at the hospital I ignored the car park machines again risking getting a fine. All I wanted to do was to find out if Tim was all right. Obviously I had no idea where he would be but the receptionist was very helpful when I told her my husband had been involved in an accident. She paged for a nurse to come and get me and I was lead through to A and E. They sat me down, pressed a cup of tea into my hand to Sooth my nerves and told me Tim was in the operating theatre so that I couldn’t see him for a while. They couldn’t tell me what had happened or what they were doing. They didn’t know when there would be any more information. I sat on my own dumbstruck for a few minutes but I couldn’t settle. I felt I had to do something. I nearly phoned Dad but then I realised I should let Tim’s parents know and anyway they would be more supportive than Dad so I phoned Cwm Dinas instead.
His father, John, answered and when I explained that Tim was in the operating theatre he said he and Wendy would drive over immediately but as they lived two and a half hours away not to expect them until at least 8 o’clock. Then I thought I ought to let the children know I might be late home and that they should sort out their own food. Lucy started to whine but I cut her short and she must have sensed my mood as she offered to cook something for us all. I couldn’t bear to tell her what had happened or that we wouldn’t all be coming home that night. I realised I would have to think carefully about what to say to the children.
I still couldn’t rest so I asked the nurse if they could get hold of the relevant police department so I could at least find out what had happened. That proved impossible and I spent a frantic couple of hours alternately pacing about or sitting drinking disgusting coffee. I texted Harry telling him not to expect me until late, wondering after I sent it whether I should have let him know that his Dad had had an accident.
It was a huge relief when John and Wendy arrived, company, persons who I could share my anxiety with. We collared several nurses and men in white coats to see if they could get us any information but although a couple of them said they’d try to find out we were kept in the dark until almost midnight. John bought more coffee for me and sandwiches for the three of us. I can’t remember what we talked about but I did find out that Tim had left Cwn Dinas just after lunch with a trailer load of plants destined for the nursery.
When we’d almost given up hope of anyone being able to help us a man in a white coat approached us.
“Are you Mrs Smith?” He said addressing me.
“Yes,” I said in unison with Wendy. “I’m Tim’s wife and John and Wendy are his parents.”
“Follow me please,” and he led us into a room with a few upholstered chairs.
From his demeanour and the look on his face I knew something bad had happened. In spite of this I wasn’t expecting what came next.
“I’m afraid your husband, your son, has sustained serious head injuries and is currently on a life support machine. At this stage we don’t know whether he’ll be able to survive on his own but I think you should prepare yourselves for the worst. At least I can inform you he is not in pain. His head injuries which must have occurred on impact have rendered him unconscious.”
I went completely numb. Wendy broke down into tears. John tried to comfort us both.
“Can we go and see him?” I asked.
“Yes but at this stage you can only see him through a glass wall. We need to protect him from any possible source of infection.”
Peering through at him was totally unsatisfactory. At least I wanted to be able to hold his hand, feel his warmth. And he looked so vulnerable there with bandages covering most of his head and face and tubes coming out of his nose and arm. Machines showing things like I suppose his heart beats and his brain activity surrounded his bed.
After a few long minutes I broke the silence and suggested Tim’s folks came back with me so they were near Tim for the morning. They drove me home as I didn’t feel able to. We discussed how we would let our children know on the way back. They had put themselves to bed and looked so innocent asleep. I burst into tears when I went back downstairs. I managed to pull myself together enough to phone Dad. He shouted at me when he answered,
“Do you know what time it is? I hope you’re not drunk.”
When I managed to tell him why I’d phoned at 2 o’clock in the morning he was very apologetic and wanted to come over immediately. I told him I needed to get some sleep so I could face thing afresh in the morning.
Surprisingly I did sleep soundly and was woken by Di coming in for a cuddle, already in her school uniform. She wanted to know why Dad wasn’t in bed with me so I had to tell her that he was in hospital. She wanted to go and see him and I thought I would take them there in case he didn’t survive.
We all went in John’s car and again peered through the glass at Tim. The children were surprisingly matter of fact about it. John and Wendy looked after them while I talked to the doctor. The news wasn’t good. They didn’t know if Tim would survive once they switched off the life support machine. His brain was very damaged and if he did survive they didn’t think he would ever regain consciousness.
Somehow I was able to absorb this information and plan in my head what to do. I would go home and inform Mum and tell Dad the news. I would phone Gordon and suggest he might like to go and see Tim. I would try to let the children know that Dad might never come home. Tim and I had on several occasions discussed our views should something like this happen and I knew what I had to do. Tim would not want to live as a cabbage. He said life is good when you’re healthy but a burden if you’re in a state like that the doctor outlined. So if he survived after the machine was switched off I would instruct the doctors of our wish to let him quietly slip away. I would tell Tim’s parents of this.