My Greenwich Angel

I have never spent so much time asleep as I have this week. In fact most of today was spent being rendered unconscious by the mother of all migraines. I’ve not had such a bad attack in quite a few years, so this one was a reminder of just how debilitating they can be.
It seems that each morning as one set of symptoms subsides, I’m hit by yet another. Of course with that much pain, the only escape is through sleep. Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t come with that much pain. It’s a futile cycle.
The only solace I could find to counteract the hammering in my head, was through thought. So I thought back to my first migraine attack.

I was 11 and it was during a school trip to Greenwich. I remember rolling down hills with my classmates and hopping from one side of the Meridian line to the other, fascinated by how with just one leap, I could be in the western hemisphere one moment and then the eastern hemisphere with the next youthful bound. After that, it was all a bit hazy, because from out of nowhere, somebody appeared to be beating me repeatedly across the cranium with a heavy object. My vision too, had become obscured by a large blob making it impossible to see and I started to panic. We had only been at Greenwich for an hour, so rather than postpone the rest of the trip, I was carried to a nearby Nunnery and left in the care of the ladies of poverty, chastity, and obedience. I will never forget the elderly nun who took me in her arms and sat with me whilst I cried and snotted all down her freshly clean habit.

I honestly thought that I was dying. That I had some kind of a brain tumour. It hurt to open my eyes or to even blink. Every swallow and every gulp took their toil and although the act of crying hurt the most, I couldn’t stop out of fear and pain. And still, she sat for hours, stroking my hair and rocking back and forth whilst whispering softly spoken words of comfort, which I sadly can no longer recall. At one point, I was aware that I was making a mess of her habit but that she didn’t seem to care, and that made me nestle further down in-between her breasts to hide from the monster gnawing away at my brain. It must have been 5 hours before my teacher came and carried me onto the coach, but I don’t remember it. I’d slept whilst in the arms of an Angel and for a further 3 days afterwards.
It has always irked me that I never got the chance to say goodbye or a thank you, or that I never knew her name. I would have liked to have ventured back one day just to tell her how safe and nurtured she made me feel that summer. That every time I had a migraine thereafter, I always thought of lying in her arms and falling asleep. And that’s just what I did today. In remembering my Angel, I was finally able to escape the pain and to slumber once more.
Some people will never know the impact that they have had, on the lives of others.


10 thoughts on “My Greenwich Angel

  1. Lily, the nun who cared for you with such love was truly an angel (and I don’t say that about many nuns I’ve known lol!). She was truly special! Wow that you were so young and it must have been a scary shock at that age when it hit you the first time, feeling like you were dying! Reading about how the nun rocked you and whispered words of comfort brought a tear to my eye. It’s a beautiful memory and I think a gift she left you that recalling her kindness brings you comfort now when you have migraines.

    Migraines are miserable and can be so debilitating (sometimes I get them, usually sinus migraines). I know the misery (although I didn’t start getting mine until I was an adult) and I really feel for you! That nun truly was an angel, and you are so right that some people never know the impact they have on our lives. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Madilyn, I know how you feel about nuns and after having 2 sisters who went to a Catholic school and seeing the way they were treated, I have no love for them either. But this woman was the embodiment of everything I expected nuns to be. Full of love, kindness, patience, compassion and warmth. She is a beautiful memory and was (is) definitely a gift. I really would have loved to meet her again.

      Oh I remember that first attack as if it were yesterday. I really was convinced that I had a brain tumour and was dying. My earliest memories are of my mum pouring some menthol lotion on to a handkerchief and then tying it loosely around my head. The cooling sensation was wonderful as I cried myself to sleep. It now turns out that it’s hereditary. Spawn gets it too, but my older sister suffers the most from it. xx

      Liked by 1 person

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