In a tough week for L, we are still debating with her therapy team how much home leave she should be allowed. She has to complete all meals, and be allowed some time, but the issue for us is whether she has a meal at home. I know it makes her anxious and I think some of the anxiety is around letting us down and not being able to eat.
I discuss this with L’s psychologist and suggest we keep it as much like the unit meals as possible. L will have a limited range of choices and the same time limits will apply. Later, I talk to L on the phone and we chat about this. I ask her if there is anything she does or doesn’t want on the choice list. She considers and tells me she’d like something different from the unit. I silently agree that constant rounds of carbs+protein+veg must be wearing, but what will L suggest next? A chicken salad? Soup? She suggests fajitas. I tentatively say that we could do that, but she would need to eat quite a lot in volume. Perhaps a curry, or a tagine dish, I offer? L thinks and then says this:
“Mm, something with couscous would be nice, perhaps something Indian, oh no, wait, I know, how about Moroccan Chicken with couscous. And can we have chickpeas, and red pepper? Yes, please, that is what I’d like. Moroccan chicken with couscous, chickpeas and red peppers. God yes, that would be, like, my ideal dish”
Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, let me introduce my daughter L, talking about food. She has been away for a long time, but there, right there in those few sentences, is my girl, back and hungry. I know that Ed might tap her on the shoulder in the night and ask what on earth she was thinking? But make no mistake, she is back. It is the real her, talking about food. At the other end of the phone I feel like doing a victory lap around my hotel room. A choir is singing Handel’s Messiah in my head. But I just say, “ok, sweetheart, that’s what we’ll do”.
A wise man once wrote – Without the cold and depths of winter, there cannot be the warmth and splendour of spring”. And so it is with L. Those words are like the first snowdrops, a sign that better times are to come, even though the cold wind and rain has not yet gone away.