Oh my god. Okay, I'm going to have to take a moment or two before actually writing anything more...
Okay, I'm alright. I'm alright. But, seriously, wow, that was so, so sad. Almost beyond that, kinda, more of a heavy melancholy, perhaps... there was so much emotion throughout it all, but it was sort of quiet and understated, which suits them and Molly in particular so well as characters, that it was probably far, far worse than if it had been big and flashy.
Molly and Arthur were perfect, but you probably know that already ;) I love the way you wrote Molly - always needing to be busy, always enjoying a full house, never really comfortable with the quiet since having Bill and the rest of the brood. To me, it seems such a natural thing to have happened to her, you know, given her situation and particularly after Fred.
Speaking of whom, I loved the references to him - and the little interjections of 'one tragedy at a time', almost as though she's talking to herself, like it's something she has had to remind herself of quite often in the times before this is set. The jumper over the bed, the way you automatically moves over to it, but then can't use it, and so uses George's instead. It was so touching and poignant.
I liked how you started it with the Healer talking to her, the memory of the time in the Hospital and the references to how it smelled - because that's always something people remember about Hospitals, along with the colour of the walls - like detergent and cleaning products. I loved the way you segued into the main chunk, as well, almost as though these are her thoughts drifting off. It was really clever - I liked it a lot :)
Arthur's condition is so true to life, so I love you for including it and not shying away from it because of course it has to be handled in a respectful and dignified way which doesn't mock amnesia, but it is unfortunately something which happens. The fact that it was Arthur was so upsetting, because he's had such a wonderful life and has such a big, happy family and ideally he'd be spending his last few days or so with them, playing with the kids, reminiscing with Molly and Ron and the rest of them, so the fact that he can't really made it so much worse.
Gah, I can't really think of much else other than to say that this is perfect, you are phenomenal and I now need to desperately listen to French pop to cheer me up.
Author's Response: Hey Aph! Thanks again for the swap!
It's so good to hear that you liked Molly! I wanted to illustrate that understated sadness through her busyness. It's like a current that's always running quietly in the background, and no matter what she does, it follows her around. Molly tries to go about her daily routine, just to give herself a sense of structure, but it's inevitable that she'll be interrupted when she realizes that her pile of laundry has been reduced considerably and later when chores related to Arthur's palliative care have to be added to the daily list. I do think she would talk to herself sometimes to provide comfort when she's alone.
I'm glad you liked the beginning. I wanted it to feel very detached and strictly from Molly's sort of confused, disbelieving point of view. The smell of hospitals used to really turn my stomach when I had to go see relatives there as a child, and that sensation has stuck with me, so I felt I could use it effectively here.
I had a grandfather with dementia and I distinctly remember listening to him get lost; he would confuse the past with the present and, most painfully of all, forget the names of the family members sitting around him. I felt like Arthur, with his wealth of memories, would lose so much in his deteriorating condition. At least he got to go home, and I would hope the children would be able to be there when it is finally time for him to pass on.
Thanks so much for your lovely review :)