When the phone rings on Sunday night I know it’ll be him. I answer chirpily, like I always do. And like always we talk about where the rig is right now, what the weather is like with him, what the weather is like here, little nuggets of nothing.
He’s heard that I am off on travels with my work and, when I tell him it’s Sao Paulo, first we chat about one of his colleagues — a doctor from Sao Paulo that he holds in high esteem — though this may be because they do an hour’s work and then have a cigarette together, then another hour and another cigarette. He almost always tells me that it’s been twenty years since he gave up drinking. The rig is currently in the docks of Cape Town and he can see Table Mountain from the deck. He likes this. Next it goes to Brazil, but he’s not going. Not sure what he’ll be doing then instead.
He comes home on Wednesday and I won’t hear from him for a while because he never calls me when he is at home with his wife. He says he’s passing through Reading soon, on a train to a refresher course in Plymouth. He’ll be in a hospital working variously in A&E, major and in the surgeries, I think he said. He’s looking forward to it; the first time he’ll have done anything like it since he first trained all those years ago. And because he’s away he can call me.
We say “love you” when we end the call, like we always do. And I always wonder if he means it. And I wonder if I mean it, too.