My mother was returning from work. She called my father to ask him to record The Archers and she started walking from the station. Then, a few hundred yards from home, she stepped onto the zebra crossing.
It was a doctor who hit her - outside the hospital where he worked. Her shredded clothes have been returned to us in a carrier. Her handbag now sits in its usual place on the hall chair, the shoes she was wearing packed inside by police. There is her favourite sheep mug on the draining rack and parcels she had ordered for Christmas arriving in the post. She is absent, yet the house is full of her. We can think of nothing else and yet we forget. My father finds himself putting her towel to warm on the radiator for morning like he always does and nearly calls from the bottom of the stairs to ask if she wants tea before bed.
I used to tune out sometimes when she chattered. Now I bend over her, listening raptly each time her lips move. 'Suffering' was the first word I heard her mumble. Then 'Family'. Her voice isn't her voice; it's become an unnerving baritone. Her face isn't her face; it no longer lights up when she hears us. But I know that deep in that changed body a familiar spirit is battling.
The last weeks have taught me that miracles can happen. I saw it in the face of the surgeon who had doubted she'd last the first night. I saw it in my father's joy when she shifted a bandaged hand. And I know it from the prayers of friends and strangers which are powering us all on.
Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation, and this year doubly so. While others shop for Christmas, when a Child was given, we wait in patient hopefulness - for my mother to be given back.
Thank you for all your messages of support. Each one was greatly appreciated.