Touko’s letter to Hely, 25 January 1990

Laakso Hospital, Helsinki, 25 January 1990

Dear Heikkä,

The letter I wrote to you before lay on the corner of the table beside me for several days. I was waiting for my friend Göran to post it for me. He had promised to take care of mailing my letters but he too was busy to visit me for three days.

It’s Kaija’s turn to be busy this weekend so I’m free during visiting hours, and since I feel quite energetic, I’m writing letters even though I don’t have any news, really. Except that the day before yesterday, they removed the drip I’d had for ten days, and I can now start trying to move around a bit more. My recovery has been quicker than it was the first time, which I’m really pleased with, of course. They’ll keep me here for monitoring for at least another two weeks because the daily dosages I take are quite high.

They take very good care of me here, so I feel really quite safe. And whatever little problems I have, the will nurses handle them. By the way, there are all kinds of nurses here. Someone you first think is nice can turn out to be incredibly difficult, and vice versa. There are some who you would not want to have in your life outside, but, weirdly, we just get along for weeks here. Naturally, the same goes for the patients. A death in the same room is still not something that I take lightly, of course. Last night there was the fifth such case since I got here. He was a nice, quiet man, who seemed quite fit. He was still walking in the corridor yesterday evening, but then he had a serious seizure in the early hours, and he didn’t make it. These cases don’t exactly make me feel better, but it’s curious that sharing experiences with other patients, most of whom are in an even worse condition than I am, appears to be easier than with healthy people. It’s as if we are less guilty together.

On to some happier things: I’ve always been partial to Runeberg’s tortes – or cakes, whichever you want to call them. They came up when I was talking to Kaija the day before yesterday, when she said that they were already in the shops. We decided to splash out and that she would bring some cakes and some coffee in a vacuum flask. They tasted so lovely that I had two, and I was full when dinner was served shortly after four. 

And would you guess what happened? Hannu, my neighbour in Fredrikinkatu, who does my grocery shopping when I’m at home, also had the idea of coming to cheer me up with proper coffee and Runeberg’s tortes. He showed up during the evening visiting hours, and so I ate again. It was a case of too much of the good thing in one day. But eating just happens to be my passion at this age, so to speak. Probably due, at least in part, to the fact that I gave up smoking more than three months ago.

I still have a beard, which is getting a bit too long, but I’ve decided to let it grow wild until I go home, and maybe even longer.

She’s so funny, our Kaija. I watched her expressions yesterday while she was reading the newspaper headlines at the foot of my bed. New lines have appeared under her nose, and it’s hard, and probably not even necessary, to try to understand what has caused them. She has brought me some of her favourite books to read over the past few weeks. The books are the type that wallow in the baseness and misery of life, which gives me the impression that her goal is not to achieve harmony but to keep up a fighting spirit, to find and face challenges. I think her decision to spend the rest of her life with Mikko is largely based on this need to show that she can handle and succeed in a situation that most other women could not. She also expresses this sense of superiority quite openly, but I have no doubt that she is sincere in her belief in herself.

Last time she was here I mentioned the golden pedestal that she’s created for Mikko. Now that he’s no longer here to prove her wrong, she can build an image of a dead graphic design genius, an exceptionally talented man, a master of exhibitions and a unique teacher. Sure, my opinion is coloured by jealousy, but I never found Mikko to be a special genius. Talented, undoubtedly, and professional as an organiser of 1950s and 1960s-style exhibitions, but as a person? An average piss artist.

I wouldn’t dare say this to Kaija. She would certainly take it as a deliberate insult, although what I hope is that she will cope as well as she can. She might even agree with me, deep down, but people generally need to blow someone’s trumpet, and this is her chance to create a myth.

26 January. There’s one hell of a blizzard outside. I’m glad I don’t have to go out there. Kaija is dealing with the inventory of the estate today so she doesn’t need to go out either. She usually goes out even in the foulest of weather, even if she doesn’t have to.

It could be that this letter won’t be posted until after the weekend, but what’s the hurry.

Best wishes, Touko