Mental Illness

Caregiving: Daffodils

It’s eight years since an event potentially detrimental to Mr. Juniper’s existence happened.

I doubt much would be gained by detailing the method. Pick a method, any method. I don’t meant to be flippant. I really don’t. I think I fear giving power to the memories by giving them too much definition. As if definition could change what happened.

There are a bunch of daffodils sitting in a jug on the other side of the kitchen. They’re definitely not at their best and I’ve been meaning to take them out to the compost bin. Maybe they can serve one more purpose. So let me say that eight years ago Mr. Juniper bought a bunch of daffodils.

Now, onwards. Or backwards, as the memories beg. Mr. Juniper hadn’t bought daffodils before. He hasn’t bought them since. There was nothing to suggest that Mr. Juniper was thinking of buying daffodils. I mean, I knew he had horticulture on his mind. At this point in our lives, Accident & Emergency was never a distant memory.

In many ways, I’m glad I have little memory of what else happened that night. I dread to think that the distress of that night could have included toast and marmalade being forever ruined. I can stomach acknowledging that Mr. Juniper bought daffodils but little else. Perhaps it’s simply a coping mechanism. The smaller the box I can put those memories in, the easier it will be to deal with.

He didn’t know how he’d bought the daffodils. He only knew that he had and that there was no one else around. Given the lateness of the hour, the desertion wasn’t a great surprise. When I answered my phone, he sounded like a little lost child. He was terrified. Alone. Confused. He had bought a bunch of daffodils and he didn’t know how. What followed was a period of time I wouldn’t wish upon anyone and have no desire to repeat. Two phones. Mr. Juniper on one, the police on the other. Mr. Juniper didn’t know where he was, but it was hard for the police to miss a man who had bought daffodils. I’m simply glad that no one else saw him first. I’ve read too many stories of what people do in those circumstances and rarely are they stories of kindness. A man who has bought a bunch of daffodils isn’t a spectacle, isn’t an inconvenience.

The police found him. They took him to safety. The end.

Except it wasn’t.

I mean, it was the end of that bunch of daffodils. They never made a scene, thank goodness. It would have been a horrible scene, too. Perhaps a couple of inches in a newspaper column. I just can’t. No. I can’t let my mind wander that way. Around this time every year though, the memories force their way to the forefront of my mind. I consider each year writing to the police officer who spoke to me as his colleagues took care of Mr. Juniper. There’s a part of me that wants to say thank you. I said it at the time. But still. I wouldn’t have my now, if it wasn’t for him then. And then there is a part of me that simply wants to let the memories go like a bunch of balloons. Let them go far away and become myth and legend if anything of substance at all.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve shared this story. It’s one that very few people know. And why daffodils, I truly don’t know. There really are a bunch of dying daffodils in a jug on the other side of the kitchen though. I guess I’m sharing this because over the years Mr. Juniper has often bought me roses. I suspect he would say he buys roses because they’re thorny like me. And then a moment later laugh and say it’s because they’re beautiful. I’m used to Mr. Juniper buying me roses as I have become used to those activities, detrimental to health, that Mr. Juniper has engaged in. To be presented with something else isn’t necessarily a simple change to coping and recovery. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. A rose is not a daffodil. And I have dragged these comparisons through a hedge backwards, but what I realised that night was that I would rather a bunch of roses from Mr. Juniper any day than to ever hear another mention of daffodils.


N.B. My apologies to Shakespeare. And roses. And daffodils. You’re all lovely.

By Juniper

Rarely to be found without herbal tea nearby. Team Unicorn. Often in pyjamas. Also: TEAM KATNISS!

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