For the first couple of months of Steven being away, I used to go into his bedroom, just to smell the pillows. The smell of Steven. But after a few weeks, the smell started to fade and the bedsheets just smelt musty. After the dreadful DOLs review in April, I came home furious and stripped Steven's bed. I put clean sheets on whenever Ian stopped over after the Balcony Olympics. And in August, the BBC wanted establishing shots of me making Stevens bed for the piece they were running. But for the most part of the year, the bed remained unmade. On 23rd December, I made the bed with tears streaming down my face.
I knew that Steven wouldn't have coped with a welcome home party, so there were no banners or balloons. He'd helped me put up the Christmas decorations the week before and that was enough. I'd got all the things Steven expects of Christmas Day: Cheeselet's, Pringles, Maltesers etc and the presents were wrapped, including the new Take That CD with Robbie back on board.
As I hadn't been part of Steven's life at the Unit, I decided not to go there to pick him up. I would welcome him at the door instead. I didn't fancy having incongruent happy pleasantries with the staff either. The two support workers told me a lovely story. All year long, Stevens signature tune for the Unit manager had been Queen's I Want To Break Free. As all the staff came out the Unit to wish him on his way, Steven went up to the manager, shook his hand and burst into Cliff's Congratulations. I'd have given anything to have seen the reaction.
Steven got home around midday. He checked out all the rooms to make sure everything was in its rightful place. He checked the cupboards to see what crisps I'd laid out for that evening. And then he settled down to watch the DVD of Mr Bean in America. He hasn't had use of a DVD for a year and he had lots of catching up to do. I sat at the dining table, watching Steven watch Mr Bean. It was such a treat.