The Blue Box

The Blue box


I open my laptop. I cannot help but notice that my last entry was on May 29th. That was four months ago. For the last two months of my mother’s life, I did not have time or inclination to open its blue box. There was nothing to write. I was on high alert night and day, as her pain increased and became greater than she could bear. Greater than I could bear too. Who can cope with a loved one suffering? She changed before my eyes, shrinking so that she became bone and as she did so her face with its high cheek bones, despite the wrinkles came to resemble her younger self more and more. How she resisted getting into the bed with its beeping monitor that was set up in her sitting room. She retreated more and more into the past, speaking to the dead who hovered in the air of the old house she had lived in all her life.


Sometimes, she cups my face in her hands. ‘Whatever happens,’ she says, ‘Know I love you’, as if she is aware that she is going to be forced to say or do unspeakable things. There had been times when I had thought – Who is this fierce old woman? Where is my mother? But not at the last when tumbled into bed, drugged in sleep, punctuated by her breathing rattling the windows and curling through the passages, her face took on the angles of her younger self. There were times when I had wished her to sleep as she talked through the night to ghosts of the house or when she called for water or help. But at the last, how I wished for her tongue to be unloosed, to hear her voice again in love, in querulousness, in defiance. ‘No one can undo the past,’ she used to say. And no one can. She relived again the great losses of her parents and husband who in extremis she called upon and her mind travelled even further back so in her last days she lived in the house as it was in childhood, and I truly hope her walks with her mother and her laughs with her father were her comfort. It did not disturb me. All those ghosts are benign and they are mine too. Opening my lap top, I seem to let them all out. ‘Welcome,’ I say, ‘I will carry you now in my heart and brain. I will tap you into being in my blue box.’


Jude Brigley


Jude Brigley is Welsh. She has been a teacher, an editor and a writer of performance poetry.


  1. spare but tragic in the spiritual sense. a lot to fit into a tiny work. yet i appreciated the impact.

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