I’m not sure how you are supposed to choose, when you are told your dad has a 50-50 chance of living but only one of his two children can go and see him, and then only for an hour.
Who claims visiting rights? The older child? The younger? Toss a coin for it? Rock, paper, scissors? Best of three? A quick sibling wrestle in the hospital car park?
In the end, the consultant gave the most generous and humane interpretation of Covid regulations he could – my brother and I were permitted 30 minutes each while the other one waited down the corridor.
Later that night our father died alone. There was no one there to hold his hand or love him in his final minutes. Covid regulations trumped compassion, even though he had tested negative for the disease.
It was Easter Monday. Diagnosed with cancer a few months earlier, he’d been taken ill that morning and was rushed to hospital. By the evening his odds of making it through the night were one in two. Yet even then we were not allowed to stay by his bedside.
‘A visit is only allowed for the end of life,’ said the consultant. ‘And we’re not there yet.’
Except, we were and how I wish that ‘Hands, Face, Space’ had not trumped my right to kiss my dad’s lovely old cheek as he left us.
Just a day earlier he had gone to an Easter Sunday service resplendent in his favourite M&S corduroy suit, a blue shirt with a jaunty daffodil yellow check, and suede brogues. He was being reunited with his church chums after many months of worshipping together on Zoom.
He was 90 but still tough enough to cut his own hedges and enjoy some rough and tumble with his grandsons, aged 15 and 11. After church he hosted a back-garden barbecue. We were just six, the number Matt Hancock said would keep the country safe.