Tea and Empathy
Someone needs to tell Roy that Hayley’s decision is not about ending her life prematurely due to despair. It is about wanting to find an acceptable accommodation to the decision that her body has taken for her, that her life is ending. The only choice she has left to make is how that end will come. With her personal experience and the insight she showed this week, Sally is the only person on the street able to tell Roy that.
From the perspective of direct experience, Sally gives a way of seeing to Roy. It was a different Sally – honestly introspective and compassionate. Lovely. With both the character and actress having gone through cancer diagnosis and treatment, it was hard to see the line between fiction and reality. Perhaps that made it even more powerful.
Sally doesn’t tell Roy what he, or Hayley, should do. She tells him how it felt for her, what frightened her and how she reacted. What’s it like from the inside and how do you cope: that’s what he wants to know. Yes, Hayley could tell him and has tried, but they are too intimately involved with each other and Hayley’s diagnosis. Sally is far enough removed from him that he can listen to her story more dispassionately. He wants to know more so invites her upstairs for tea so they can talk more privately.
He is overwrought about Hayley’s wish to end her life at the time she chooses and about the fight that provoked Hayley’s decampment to Fiz’s house. Upstairs, he begins to open up to Sally, starts to tell her about their argument. Hayley is being illogical, doesn’t care about how Roy may feel – he pauses, maybe steeling up his nerve to say what exactly Hayley’s inconsistency and lack of consideration is about. Sally breaks into the pause to give a load of advice just as easily found in a counseling pamphlet. It’s not about you and your inconvenience, it’s about Hayley and comforting her fears. Yes, yes, yes. Sally, don’t you know Roy well enough after all these years to see that he is struggling with something big and wants to tell you about it? Evidently not, and the moment is gone.
Unfortunately, the argument between Roy and Hayley is not over. Hayley, now ill, will have to again fight the battle over exercise of personal choice. That is something that you would expect Roy, of all people, to understand. And maybe if someone a little less closely involved than Hayley pointed out the inconsistency in logic to him, he would grasp it.