There is this red geranium and every Friday I walk up the stairs to the 2nd floor, I have watched this geranium grow from a little seedling into a plant that for some reason continually flowers. This red geranium has become my measure of time in a place where for many time stopped at a moment, when they became locked- in. Locked- in through some kind of brain stem injury. At a moment they got stuck in a body that doesn't move where nobody is certain how much a person can see, hear, feel, or understand. The process is slow and painful. Life becomes all about the details a blink of an eye for yes and no to start with. For me it has been about learning to communicate in a different way and watching closely for answers, trying to find out as much as I can about their life before to see who they loved, what made pissed them off, what made them laugh so many millions of things that make us who we are.
So 7 years ago the journey started every Friday I started working with this lady I knew nothing about at all, just her name that she used to paint and had loads of horses. So Friday was our time to share music, colour, paint and laughter. To begin with her head was strapped in one of those mechanisms around her forehead as her neck was not strong enough to hold itself up, no movement anywhere, her face expressionless and her eyes moved slightly but it was hit and miss as to whether it was a blink for a no or yes. The journey has been slow after 4 years that brain started to switch back on I was sitting down drawing with her, barely able to hold the pencil and move it a cm I was recounting my weeks stories, when I told her about me reversing back into a stationery police car her mouth turned upwards and she smiled and smiled and smiled.
We listen to jazz, I waffle rubbish, we draw I draw her, she laughs with me and I know at me. She can now move her hands her arms a little and has all the expressions in her face. I long to hear her voice. I say to her I hope it will be to tell me to bloody shut up. I am waiting as I know it will happen one day.
I can't imagine a world where you are just as you were, but your bloody body has become locked in and nobody knows what the key is. But what I do know is, that art for some people is and integral part of their care and I know Fridays have been important for her and beyond words for me. And this drawing has taken nearly 5 weeks but it is a massive leap and the red geranium keeps on growing.