I have avoided writing a poem about Grace for a long time because she is much better at poetry than me. I first started liking poetry at university when we lived together, and she would read it aloud to me.
Grace found out she had cancer just under a year ago. She has dealt with the whole thing with a vaguely pissed off nonchalance which I have found staggering: I can’t even deal with being gossiped about or talking to strangers on the phone. But yesterday she was reasonably frustrated: after being asked to move to a Young Person’s Cancer unit, the ward sister told her she couldn’t use the special facilities (a TV room, x boxes, the kitchen) on the near empty ward because they were for young persons aged 25 and below. Grace turned 26 last month. And she’s recovering from cancer. The lack of compassion was unfathomable.
So I wrote this sonnet thinking about how the nurse was more attached to the rule and to her patient as a statistic rather than seeing Grace as a person. And she is a wonderful person.
p.s. I love this second photo of Grace, because the fish tank in the background reminds me that when we lived together in our 4th year, we bought two fishes (Dolly and Kenny) which mysteriously died within 24 hours of purchase. Being the lazy layabouts that we were back then, we just scooped out and disposed of the dead fish, then kept the tank – death water and all – on display for approximately 6 months. With this level of commitment to hygiene in mind, it wasn’t particularly surprising that we had a vermin issue.