Chapter 21 » 21.63

Suffering and healing

I was sixteen – alone in the world in a strange sense – utterly friendless – ill and away from boarding school (where I was not happy, but perhaps happier than at home) for nine months at a stretch…

I had not slept at all for three long weeks. The doctors refused to give me sleeping pills or send me to hospital as I was so young. I pleaded in vain for sleeping pills or hospital, and failing I gathered up my courage to face an intolerable situation quite alone.

I contemplated suicide. Though I did not fear it, I knew, young and disturbed though I was, that it would grieve my adoptive parents terribly, and perhaps some of the girls and staff at my boarding school would be upset…

I thought long and with strange sixteen-year-old maturity. I was no longer a child, though my parents treated me as if I were three, and I had been reading Plato in Greek for about two years.

I decided against suicide. It would be cowardly anyway. I prayed for sleep and health and friends – especially one dear friend. That prayer was absolutely answered beyond my wildest dreams many years later when I was 51. It was worth waiting for. Since I was small I have had the Chinese attitude to time, that time passes imperceptibly and the joys of life are worth waiting for.

Hilary Pimm, 1983

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