Posh tosh, but we loved it! Downton Abbey was one of Laura’s favorite TV shows. It was the first thing we watched together (she introduced me to it a few weeks after we met) and it was the last thing we saw together. It was Laura’s dying wish that her friend Reg bring the final season 4 episode to watch in hospital. A month earlier she had begged another friend Bridget to bring back what we thought was all of season 4’s DVDs from England so she could see it ahead of its US release (but we were oddly missing the finale). Laura loved Dame Maggie’s imperious cracks (Lady Bracknell on acid), the glam frocks and scenery and the on-again off-again romance between Matthew and Mary. When Matthew died shortly after the pair married, we blubbed (or at least, I did). And it seemed like our lives were running parallel. We met as the show started and now Mary was mourning her loss. ‘I don’t know who I am most in mourning for Matthew or for the person I was when I was with him,’ she says. I feel the same . Laura brought out the very best in me.I miss who I was with her. But I miss her most of all.
By the time we watched the final episode of Downton in hospital, I had to pause the show every 5 minutes to explain who the characters were and what was happening. One of the oddest things about Laura’s disease was how swiftly it progressed. She cycled all the way around Central Park just 10-12 weeks before she died. But barely a few weeks later the first signs that she was critically ill were evident when she could no longer read books or research on the internet. A short while later, she couldn’t follow movies or TV easily either. Although her speech remained pretty much intact until her final days, it was as if she was leaving her left brain with its word-oriented linear processing behind and moving into her right brain emotional side. She became incredibly intuitive about people. She suddenly saw some people differently, but mostly she exuded immense love and an almost childlike openness and serenity. It made me think of neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor’s extraordinary stroke experience. When the left side of her brain shut down, it brought her to a place of deep peace and connectedness that felt like nirvana.
Hear Jill Bolte Taylor describe her ‘stroke of insight’