"I looked around me at the faces I had grown fond of, rapt with attention, and I thought of Will. I closed my eyes and recalled his face and his smile and his laugh and thought of what loving him had cost me, but mostly of what he had given me."
With those words Louisa remembers Will. But who is Will, or better who was Will?
Will was a quadriplegic young man, he was 35 years old and he was injured in a road accident. He required twenty-four-hour care, the majority of which was provided by a trained nurse.
He also needed a carer to be with him throughout the day to keep him company, help him with food and drink, generally provide an extra pair of hands, and make sure that he comes to no harm.
And Louisa was his carer for six months.
But she had never seen him before that thing. He loved his life, really loved it. He loved his job, his travels, he loved being a physical person.
And he felt so claustrophobic, being in that chair, he just wanted to scream like a madman at the thought of spending another day in it.
The 35-year-old son of Steven Traynor, custodian of Stortfold Castle, has ended his life at Dignitas, the controversial center for assisted suicide. Mr. Traynor was left quadriplegic after a traffic accident in 2007. He apparently traveled to the clinic with his family and his caregiver, Louisa Clark, 27, also from Stortfold.
He knew he wanted to do it before she met him. She tried to change his mind and she couldn’t. So she went along with it because she loved him, and it seemed to make sense at the time.
How could she explain the way they had so swiftly understood each other, the shorthand jokes, the blunt truths and raw secrets? How could she convey the way those short months had changed the way she felt about everything? The way he had skewed her world so totally that it made no sense without him in it?
How could she explain what Will and she had been to each other, the way she felt that no person in the world had ever understood her like he did or ever would again? How could she understand that losing him was like having a hole shot straight through her, a painful, constant reminder, an absence she could never fill?
Looking back, for the first nine months after Will’s death she was in a kind of daze. Those early months, it was as if she had lost a layer of skin— she woke up laughing, or crying.
Sometimes she felt haunted by him, as if she was seeing it all through his eyes, hearing his voice in her ears.
“Eighteen months. Eighteen whole months. So when is it going to be enough?” I say into the darkness. Because this doesn’t feel like living. It doesn’t feel like anything.”
And sometimes when the streets below were filled with couples strolling, and laughing people spilled out of pubs, already planning meals, nights out, trips to clubs, something ached inside her, something primal telling her that she was in the wrong place, that she was missing something.
These were the moments when she felt most left behind.
Perhaps if Will would have known he had a daughter, he would have changed his mind ? Yes, Will had a daughter. He didn’t know about her. The mother was an old girlfriend of his, from university, who took it upon herself not to tell him.
Will 's daughter was sixteen. Her name was Lily.
Her mother married someone Lily called Fuckface, she had two little brothers who sound like trainee Reggie and Ronnie Kray, and they changed the locks to the family home because Lily was a complicated girl, she usually felt refused by the others, above all from her family.
Every ten days or so, there was drunk Lily, or worse who would hammer on Louisa's door in the small hours, ignoring her protests about time and lost sleep, stumble past her with mascara-smudged cheeks and missing shoes, and pass out on the little camp bed, refusing to wake when she left in the morning.
She seemed to have no hobbies, and few friends. She would talk to anyone in the street, asking favors with the unembarrassed insouciance of a feral kid. But she wouldn’t answer the phone at home and seemed to expect everyone she met to dislike her.
Louisa couldn’t believe that you could give birth to someone, love them, nurture them, and by their sixteenth year, claim that they so exasperated you that you’d change the locks of your house against them. Sixteen was still not grown up, surely? For all her posturing, she could see the child in Lily.
So she decided to help her; she told Lily what she knew of Will’s romantic history, about his career, that he was the kind of man who made you long for his approval, whether just by doing something that impressed him or making him laugh at some stupid joke. She told her how he was when she met him, and how he had changed, softened, starting to find joy in small things, even if many of those small things seemed to involve making fun of her.
She told her about his previous girlfriend, and how they had gate-crashed her wedding dance, her sitting on Will’s lap as they turned his motorized wheelchair in circles on the dance floor.
She told Lily he made her go to her first concert ever. Classical, not pop. Louisa only agreed because it meant he would leave the house. He didn’t like going out much in the early days. He put on a nice shirt and a good jacket, and it was the first time she had seen him look like. She went preparing to be bored, and then cried her way through the second half like a complete loon. It was the most amazing thing she had d ever heard in my life.
And Louisa grasped something else: for the first time, she was recalling Will without sadness.
Lily had changed Louisa's life.
Will’s daughter needed her. It was as simple as that. She owed him. Here was a way to feel she hadn’t been completely useless. She could still do something for him.
She had been waiting to feel normal again since Will died, but she was basically just going through the motions. She was still in a crappy job. She still lived in that flat, which she didn’t think is ever going to feel like home. She had a near-death experience falling from a building, but she couldn't say it gave her wisdom or gratitude for life or anything.
She went to a grief-counseling group full of people who were as stuck as she was . But she hadn’t really done anything till Lilly appeared in her life.
But also Lily's life changed after knowing Louisa, even if she would always be sad and maybe even a bit angry that she would have never got to meet her father, but he gave her a lot, without knowing it. Will gave Lily a family she didn’t know she had. And that was cool because it was not going that well before they all turned up.
"I just wanted to say thank you, from your daughter, and that I . . . love you and I’ll always miss you, and I hope if you’re looking down and you can see me, you’re glad. That I exist."
Reading this novel I have learnt that we don’t know what will happen. Nobody ever does. You can set out one morning and step in front of a motorbike and your whole life can change.
You can fall off a tall building and be saved by a paramedic whose name was Sam and to start something special together.
You can go to work , like Sam did, on a routine job and get shot by a teenager who thinks that’s what it takes to be a man.
You can find a hand that helps you to live and to know that someone would be there, watching as your plane gathered speed and lifted into the great blue sky beyond. And with luck, he would be there, waiting, when you came home again.
雖然作者文筆輕鬆幽默, 但未能如第一集般深刻及單一, 太多支節, 敘述女主角如何走出前男主角的陰霾, 重新生活及找到另一最愛.