Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 11
Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
- Morning Has Broken, Eleanor Fargeon
- Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 10
Cloe is discharged having turned a huge corner. Two days later, after making a special thank you delivery to the ward, she is met with evil that would rock the world of all who knew and loved her.
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 10
The entire staff of the mental health unit at Mercy Hospital is in mourning for Cloe. Ivy is told about Cloe's death and is unable to process the news. She has her first nightmare.
Gimmler has suspicions about Stricklen's involvement in Cloe's death.
Ivy felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. Her mind short circuited and simply could not comprehend this harsh reality. Her body was reacting - mouth went dry, heart tripping, muscles went weak; but her mind exited her body. She looked down on the three of them from the ceiling. She saw her own face drain of color and horror appear in her eyes. She saw Clara and Dr. Wong looking at her with concern.
Ivy's eyes were somewhere else, another realm.
"She dissociating," Dr. Wong said to Clara.
"Yes, in shock.".
Clara reached over to Ivy's hand and held it. Sometimes touch could help ground someone. Finally Ivy repeated the news in a question.
"Cloe was in an accident and she died? Is that what you said?" Her voice quavered.
"Yes, Ivy," said Dr. Wong.
How dare you
It had been a month and ten days since Cloe had died. Time yawned listlessly for Ivy. Every day was a gray eternity. To breathe some days was all she could muster. Dr. Wong and the unit staff required her to go through the daily routine, no isolating or sleeping all day. She numbly went through the motions most days, and by dinnertime she could not remember one thing she had done. Even her visits with Dr. Wong seemed lifeless. To his disappointment, he seemed unable to reach Ivy. Clara had made no headway either.
Tonight Ivy sought the nothingness of sleep, but her body would not quiet. She tossed and turned as storms of despair and anxiety battered her. Her mind raced with dark thoughts - memories of Cloe on the ledge and her meltdown after Dr. Weasel violated her. She ruminated on the sorrow and suffering her dear friend experienced throughout her life, and suffering she'd experienced in her own life. Then there was the relentless barrage of images of Cloe being struck by the car, and the mangled mess she must have been. This was the same nightly misery she'd been experiencing since Cloe's death.
The images of Nana could not be summoned. Gone was the song of the blackbird heralding the new mercies of morning. Her life was now a thousand midnights of torment.
Tonight was pivotal, she turned a corner. Her despair and anxiety turned to rage. She sat bolt right, jumped out of bed and stood in the middle of her room where a full moon cast it's light. She was livid with God. She lashed at him, shaking her fist at heaven with a power she didn't know she possessed.
"How dare You!" she spewed. "How dare You!" she shouted. "Who do You think You are?" And then she was sobbing. "How can You be so cruel? What kind of game are You playing? You call yourself a God of love, give me a break!"
Her face was now wet with tears, snot and spittle. "You give me people to love and be loved by, and then You snatch them away. That's not mercy, that's a cruel mockery! How could you?"
She crumpled to the floor and wept until her wrath and body were spent. With no strength to get to her bed, she laid on the floor and slept a deep and restful sleep. Though she had no real dream, she felt a presence, a tender hand upon her head, and a warm breath on her cheek. It felt like love.
Could it be?
Ivy awoke, still on the floor in the middle of the room, a blanket covering her. As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes she knew someone had been in her room, obviously having compassion by covering her. She stood at the window and saw that the sky was dappled with gray and charcoal clouds, but beams of sun thrust their way through. A memory flickered of her father driving with her down the highway, the same cloudy sky and the same sun beams shining down.
"Daddy, what is happening to the sky?" she asked.
"Ivy, that is God descending."
"It means coming down from heaven. Those beams of light coming through the clouds are God showing us He is still with us, even when the sky is gray and stormy."
Ivy's eyes misted for a moment at the memory. She thought of her meltdown in the middle of the night. It seemed a distant memory. Her rage was gone. This morning she felt like little Ivy, so dependent on her daddy's love and care. The same love Nana had given her. Now, she realized, she will have to be dependent on the Father of lights. Rage and despair she knew would destroy her. Cloe, Daddy, and Nana would want her to find peace and live in God's strength. A thought struck her - Cloe, Daddy, and Nana were not only a part of her past, but also a part of her future. She had a long road ahead, but she would take it one day, or hour if needed, at a time.
Nurse Helen, the night shift nurse tapped on the door.
"Good morning Ivy, you look rested. I was kind of concerned about you last night. I checked on you but saw you needed privacy."
"Yes, I'm sorry for all the noise during the night. I kind of lost it, but I'm feeling better today. Thank you for putting the blanket over me."
"Blanket? I didn't put a blanket over you. I did check in on you again after you got quiet, and you were asleep on the floor with a blanket already over you. You don't remember putting a blanket over yourself?"
"Um, no. Definitely I did not. I was too spent after my meltdown. I remember laying down on the floor and next thing I know it's morning. What about Garrett? Could he have done it?"
"It's not likely. Men staff don't work with the women at night, but I'll ask him. I have your meds here and then I'm going to shift change and going home. Clara will be your nurse today. I'm so glad you slept well."
As Ivy headed to breakfast awhile later she saw Helen heading to the door to go home.
"Helen, did you ask Garrett about the blanket?"
"Yes. He said no. He was busy with charting and tending one of the men last night. My what a mystery, eh? See you soon, Ivy. I'm glad to see you looking refreshed."
"Hmm," said Ivy. "This is too weird." She remembered the presence in her sleep, and thought awhile on it. Nana had often talked about angels. She remembered the story about Jesus' testing in the wilderness and how the angels came and ministered to him. "Hmm," she hummed again. "Could it be?" She smiled a wee smile.
Thomas Gimmler ushered homicide detective Dell Michaelson out of his office, promising to cooperate further with the investigation if needed. He flopped back into his chair and rubbed his temples. A headache was coming on, no doubt due to the stress of the last twenty four hours. He felt no regret divulging all the information and suspicions he had about Stricklen. He told Detective Michaelson the good, bad, and the ugly about his once closest friend - his unseemly treatment of women, and subsequent boasting; his disdainful attitude and treatment of patients; his arrogant, dismissive confession yesterday morning about his inappropriate contact with Cloe; and his initial deceitful efforts to pretend he didn't know about Cloe's death, but final confession that he did know. He also told about Murray's abrupt disconnect when asked if he had anything to do with Cloe's death.
"When Murray hears I ratted on him... will he come after me?" Gimmler asked himself. His stomach sank as he realized it was a very significant possibility. That afternoon he called for security to walk him to his car as he left for home.
As a child
Ivy sat in her chair in between activities that afternoon reading the Bible and trying hard to connect with God. She remembered once Nana telling her that God desires, honors and respects honesty with Him.
"God, I know I treated you very badly last night. Surely You understand how shattered I've felt, and because I don't understand what You are doing and allowing, I couldn't hold back. I'm still fragile little Ivy. I'm trying to relearn to trust You again. My mind knows You are trustworthy, but my broken heart is still struggling. Help my unbelief."
She felt His acceptance. She sensed He would be patient with her. She must never stop seeking Him or she would end up bitter, alone, and tormented. Clara walked into the room.
"Hi Ivy. I thought I'd check in with you while it's quiet. Want to chat?"
Ivy laid her Bible down on the table. "Of course. You probably heard about my meltdown last night?"
"Yes. Do you want to talk about it? Nothing wrong with keeping it private but if you want to talk, that's why I'm here."
"Well I was in the middle of my nightly tornado. Racing dark thoughts about Cloe and all the pain we've been through in our lives, and I couldn't shut off images of her being hit by the car." Ivy missed a breath. "You know, I think if I hadn't been here I might have tried to make another attempt."
"Well then, I'm glad you're here."
"But then something just snapped. I found myself in this rage."
"Rage can be a good thing. It's one of the many cycles of grief, which you've probably learned in the grief and loss group."
"Yes, I've resisted speaking in that group. Anyway, I got angry at God. Clara, I had the gall to shake my fist at Him and say some pretty bad things and then I couldn't stop sobbing."
"Ivy you needed to yell and you needed to cry. Helen tells me you slept well, though."
"Yeah, go figure. Do you believe in God, Clara?"
"Yes. We had to go to church while I was growing up."
"Did you ever trust Him, know Him, or talk to Him?"
"I suppose I've talked to Him, but I guess if I'm truthful I can't really say I know Him, or that my trust is one way or another. I guess He's not much on my radar accept when trials come. Gosh, it feels yucky saying that out loud. I guess I need to re-evaluate my spirituality, or lack thereof."
"I think that is pretty common with people. My Nana was a devout Christian. She took me to church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, read me the Bible, had me memorize verses, and we sang hymns together."
"Like that beautiful song by Cat Stevens? Morning Has Broken, right?"
"Yes, that's the one that brought Cloe and I..." Ivy choked and tears spilled but she gained her composure. "You know, Cloe's Grammy and my Nana both sang that song to us growing up." She choked up again.
"I think that is so beautiful. You know that first morning you were here and I walked in here and heard you sing that I got goose bumps. It's such a joyous and hope filled song."
"It is. But I lost the joy and hope. I've been feeling like God sucker-punched me, and last night I let Him have it."
"And how do you feel now?"
"Different. It's hard to describe. I feel like little Ivy, fragile, scared, but wanting to trust Him. I was just sitting here praying when you came in. I was telling Him I want to trust Him, and I will seek to trust Him, but I'm broken a bit and need His help."
"I remember once in Sunday School reading that Jesus told His disciples to come to Him as a little child. I think that's what you're doing, Ivy. And from what I heard in church as a kid, God is supposed to be forgiving, so I'm sure He forgives you." She grew quiet.
"I can see your wheels turning, Clara. Care to share?"
"Oh, role reversal here," she chuckled. "I guess this conversation has got me thinking about my lack of connection to God. In her last days here, I saw that joy, love and trust for God in both you and Cloe, how it connected you two together and empowered your willingness to get well. I even had one moment of...I don't know, envy is not quite the word, but something close. Then things happened and I forgot all about it. You just reminded me again. Ivy, you are so special."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because you are real, and in your hard struggles, you still manage to impact others with your honesty. Certainly for me. I feel privileged to know you Ivy."
"Well ditto Clara. You've been a steady trustworthy confidant. You are so understanding, real and honest yourself. Thank you so much for being my nurse, friend and advocate."
"You are welcome. Let's celebrate with some chocolate." Clara whipped out a Cadbury bar. "A patient family member works for Cadbury and brought us a stash to say thank you."
Ivy's eyes grew wide. "Cool, fruit and nut, my fav." She broke off a piece and put it in her mouth. "Clara, the Lord has come! Thank you Jesus."
Dinner at the Wong's
The Wong family were gathered around the dinner table celebrating son Lei's promotion at a burgeoning new software company. Sandra his wife, and twin daughters, Lan and Lian, along with Mrs. Wong, were smiling and chatting with enthusiasm. Lin and Lian were bright, precocious, and entertaining six year olds that were the apple of their grandfather's eye. Dr. Wong was only half listening and picking at his food, a gross departure from his usual effervescent self. Mrs. Wong glanced over at her husband, worried about his continuing funk. In their 42 years of marriage she had never seen him so sober and disengaged, especially around their little granddaughters. Lei, Sandra and the girls followed Mrs. Wong's eyes and they became concerned as well.
"Yéye," said little Lan to her grandfather. "Why are you so sad?"
Dr. Wong looked at his little granddaughter, feeling guilty for his mood. He pasted a smile onto his face and answered little Lan.
"Oh Lan, yéye just tired. I have long day at work."
"What do you do at work, yéye?" asked Lian.
"Yéye is doctor. I help people not feeling well."
"Maybe you need a doctor," Lian said. "You look like you don't feel well, yéye."
"No, no, sweet Lian, yéye just need to play with Lian and Lan. I have surprise for you," he said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
Lian and Lan gasped with delight and clapped their hands.
"Tell us, yéye. What is our surprise?"
"Girls, we must finish dinner before you play with yéye," said Sandra.
The family resumed their meal and Dr. Wong did his very best to feel and act happy. After dinner he took the girls into the spare room where he and Mrs. Wong kept toys for them.
"Close your eyes, no peeking," he said.
The girls covered their eyes but twitched and danced with excitement.
"Okay, open your eyes."
Lian and Lan opened their eyes and squealed as they beheld a new dollhouse.
"Oh yéye, it's so beautiful," said Lian.
"Thank you, yéye, thank you," said Lan.
They rushed the doll house, oohing and aahing.
"Yéye make this for you," Mrs. Wong said. The girls gasped and thanked him again.
Lei, Sandra and the girls left at 8:30. Just before leaving, when out of earshot of Dr. Wong, Lei asked his mother what was wrong with his father.
"He sad over death of patient."
"Oh, that's not like him."
"She very special. It happens. Don't worry, it will pass."
As she readied for bed, Mrs. Wong saw her husband sitting on the side of the bed in his pajama bottoms and t-shirt with such sad eyes it broke her heart. She sat next to him and rubbed his shoulders.
"Huan," she said to her husband. "Your name mean happiness, but you so sad. I miss my happy Huan."
"I am fine, Shihong," he said to his wife tersely.
"You not fine," said Shihong. "You depressed. You need help. You not getting better."
Dr. Wong became angry. "Shihong, leave me be. I don't t need help. I treat others. I am fine. Go to sleep."
"Go to sleep Shihong. Leave me be!"
Shihong kissed her husband on the head and patted it.
"I love you Huan."
They got under the covers and turned off the lamps. They lay back to back. A tear seeped out of Dr. Wong's eye, and a tear seeped out of Mrs. Wong's eye. The sadness was like a heavy blanket.
Dr. Wong walked the corridor, headed to the elevator. Ivy was his first patient today. He'd become so discouraged that she wasn't making progress. He had not yet heard about Ivy's meltdown and how it turned her around. He chided himself.
"Wong," he mumbled, "you not God. You not superman. Things take time. You help many people. Suck up, Wong." He thought for a moment. "I think I mean suck it up. I better check Urban Dicitonary." But he knew he was too tired to use his Urban Dictionary. "So unimportant."
He passed by the cafeteria and the aroma of food made him nauseous. He stopped just short of the elevator when he saw the door that said "Chapel" on it. He stood there a few moments considering it, then checked his watch. He was early. He had time. He opened the door and looked in. In all the years he'd worked at Mercy he'd not once gone into the chapel. It seemed so foreign. It was so tiny. Only four tiny pews, a beautiful stained glass window with a dove, a table with a few candles and a small cross, and a small podium with a large Bible on it. He took a seat in the back pew. It felt too overwhelming to consider going to the front. He sat there quietly. He did not pray, he just sat and felt the room. There was a holiness in the room, but holiness was not a word he knew or understood. He just felt it and thought of all the things Cloe and Ivy, and his patient many years ago had said about their God experiences.
After ten minutes he stood, lingered another moment taking in the cross, then quietly slipped out. It would not be his only time to visit. The chapel would become a refuge in the days and weeks, and months to come.
© 2016 Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.