Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 12
- Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 11
After a month and a half of tormenting grief and despondency, Ivy shakes her fist at God and turns a corner. Dr. Wong himself is depressed, alarming his family. He pays a special visit to the chapel.
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 11
After weeks of despondency and terrible dark thoughts at night, Ivy gets mad at God and lets him have it. This opens up a conversation with Clara about God.
Gimmler cooperates with a homicide detective investigating Srticklen.
Dr. Wong is suffering his own battle with depression, a great concern to his family.
As she readied for bed, Mrs. Wong saw her husband sitting on the side of the bed...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 not need help. I treat others. I am fine. Go to sleep."
"Go to sleep Shihong. Leave me be!"
Dr. Wong and Ivy talk grief and God
Dr. Wong entered the little office where he met with patients. Although he'd felt a bit better after his visit to the chapel, it was only momentary. He looked around the dreary room and realized he was sick to death of it's coldness and depressing colors. It made him mad that people who suffer from depression were given such an environment. He was shocked to realize how depressed he'd become. Now he knew experientially what his patients were dealing with. He felt like kicking himself for getting into this predicament. He kicked one of the sick green colored, plastic chairs instead.
Ivy was due any moment. The show must go on, he knew, so he braced himself for another fruitless session. "Wong," he said to himself, "you failure."
At that moment he heard Ivy knock at the door. With every ounce of strength he could muster, he put on a content face and began their session.
"Come in, Ivy," he said, opening the door for her. He looked at her face and saw a spark in her eyes, like she'd just come out of a daze. She didn't look joyful, or even happy, but there was a bit of life on her face. She sat down in the ugly chair.
"You look good today, Ivy. Different."
"Yes, I feel like I've turned a corner."
Inwardly he winced at the statement, for that was exactly the verbiage used by Cloe just before her discharge. It should have made him feel glad and hopeful, but it didn't. He kept his mask on and continued the charade of feeling normal and happy.
"This good news, Ivy. Tell me about it."
"Well, I had a meltdown last night," Ivy said. "I came unglued, but It was just what I needed."
"I was being tormented with dark thoughts, just like I've been telling you I get at night, but this time I snapped. I got furious at God and just let go with a tirade at Him."
Piqued with interest by her mention of God, furious, and tirade in the same sentence, he listened intently to what she was saying.
"Mad at God, you say? Why?"
"Because God is the Creator of all things, rules the world, and causes or allows all things to happen. I blamed Him for being cruel to me by taking Cloe, Nana, and my father and mother."
"Hmm, I see," he said, not seeing at all.
"I shook my fist at him, and then I started sobbing and fell asleep on the floor. I was there when I woke up this morning."
"It good and normal for grieving people to get angry and cry. Release of pain."
"I know in grief class they say there are many stages of grief and that it comes in waves."
Wong grinned. "So, you been listening, Ivy."
"It seems so."
"Maybe you participate in class now. Share feelings, talk about Cloe and your Nana. Try making it a goal."
"As a matter of fact, I think I am ready. The group is on my schedule today. I'm going to share at least one thing, even if I get uncomfortable."
"Someone say once only way to handle grief is to grieve. Grief normal. Necessary. But we fight it because it hurt so bad. Don't be afraid of grief, Ivy. If you stifle grief, it come back and bite your butt. I learn that in Urban Dictionary," he said proudly. "You grow bitter and sick if you don't grieve." He chided himself silently. 'Listen to me,' he thought, ' take own advice, Wong.'
"I'm going to try to face it bravely," she said.
"Don't get discourage if bad feelings come back. It part of process. How you feel now, Ivy?"
"Well, it feels like someone cleaned all the cobwebs out of my head. But I also feel like a fragile, needy, little girl, Dr. Wong. But, I'm not mad at God anymore. I want to trust Him, so I'm working on that. I told Him I was sorry this morning."
Dr. Wong was struck by the whole concept of yelling at God, then telling Him you're sorry. Why would she think her God would still accept her? "I'm glad you turn corner, Ivy. Progress why you are here. You work hard in grief class. Tell me about it tomorrow, okay Ivy?"
"You bet. Thank you Dr. Wong."
"Have good day, Ivy."
The grief group was in full swing. A new staffer was facilitating, a thirty eight year old woman named Erlene. She had an endearing southern drawl and calming tone. Erlene was sharing a bit of her own grief story, having lost her mother to a home intruder just eight months prior.
"I'm not here as the expert," she said. "I'm here as one of you, peer to peer, really. I have all the training, know all the stages of grief, the terminology, all of it. But until eight months ago it was just book knowledge and compassion. Now, for me, it's real, it hurts, and I need to be here as much as you."
"Wow!" was the consensus thought. The whole group dynamic and playing field had changed in that one vulnerable, powerful sentence. They were riveted as Erlene continued.
"Before my mom was murdered," she said, - there was a barely discernible recoil in her eyes - "I thought I knew what grief was. I'd lost both sets of grandparents up to the point when my mother died. I was close to my maternal grandmother growing up, but I rarely got to see her in my adulthood because school and then my husband's work took us out of state. She had a long illness with much suffering, so I was prepared when she passed. I was sad and I still miss her, but it was not devastating. With my other grandparents it was pretty much the same. But my mother's death was the most devastating event in my life. The pain is double because of how she died. It was sudden. I felt like I'd been sucker punched when I was trying to absorb the news."
The room was silent at Erlene's confession. Tears gathered in Ivy's eyes. This woman's story was so close to her own in that her loss was by murder. Ivy lost both her mother and Cloe through murder. And as Nana had raised her through the horrible traumas in her life, her death was cataclysmic as well. Others in the room were nodding, tearing up, or silently moved by Erlene's story. There was a groundswell of connectedness and empathy amongst the group.
"This group isn't just about me today. But I think sharing part of my story can help you all to be comfortable sharing with someone who's been there. Today we are not about education, we're about reality. I would like to know your names though. Can we go around the group and introduce ourselves? Your name and maybe one thing you'd like us to know about you - that's optional of course - but your name definitely. We'll start with you." She pointed to a forty something man to her right.
"I'm Anthony and I'm not a big fan of death or grief groups."
"Honesty is good," said Erlene. "Next."
"My name is Jill and I'm so sorry for your loss Erlene," said a girl about Ivy's age.
"Thank you," said Erlene.
"Hi, I'm Evan," said a nineteen year old boy. "I've never lost someone to death so I'm not sure I belong here, but they told me I have to."
"Evan, there are different types of loss. It doesn't have to be the death of a loved one. It can be the loss of a job, a family through divorce, loss of health, loss of a lifelong dream, even a sense of loss of yourself. And we can always learn something that we may need later on in life. I'm glad you are here."
When it was Ivy's turn she said, "I'm Ivy and your story, Erlene, resonates with me so much. My mother was murdered and my best friend Cloe, a patient here, was murdered just a month and a half or so ago." She felt no shame at cracking into tears.
"Yes, I heard about Cloe, Ivy. I am so very sorry for both your losses," said Erlene.
After the introductions were complete, Erlene gave the group guidelines and format. She stressed there are no wrong or right feelings or perfect formula to grief. People should feel free to cry, to share or not to share, and emphasized respect and creating a safe place for all. For this day she wanted the discussion to be about whatever they'd like to say to the person place or thing they'd lost by letter, or what they'd like to say to grief. Each person received paper and pen and they began.
When they were done Erlene asked if anyone wanted to share what they'd written or talk about the nature of what they'd written.
Evan volunteered first. "I wrote a letter to my depression that caused me the loss of happiness. He read a brief paragraph.
"Dear depression, I hate you for invading my life and stealing my peace, happiness, and hope. Because of you my life has come to a halt. Everyday since you've come has been bleak and dark and I 've been sucked into a bottomless quicksand." His voice became angry. "I'm in a psych ward and lost my job because of you. You suck."
Erlene thanked him. Ivy decided to go next. The letter was too intense to read so she shared what it was about. Upon the first word the rest came rolling out in a torrent.
"I wrote a letter to death and murder for taking the people I loved and needed most in my life; for trying to destroy me; for taking your mother, Erlene. And I wrote to the murderers of my mom and yours, and Cloe's." She broke then but through her tears of rage told them they will not succeed in destroying her, and that she was seeking to find forgiveness and leave their fate to God, whatever it might be.
The hate did not disappear, but went from a raging torrent to a swift stream. That was enough for today.
Ivy gets a visitor
Ivy was in her room doing some reading when Clara came by.
"Ivy," she said, "You had a visitor today but you have an order not to let anyone know you're here so we didn't confirm your presence here but I thought you ought to know."
"Visitor? Here? Who was it?"
"He said he was your cousin James and he was wondering if he could see you."
Ivy was stunned. "James came here looking for me? I can't believe it. I wonder what made him come here of all places, to look for me?"
"Do you want to see him? He insisted on giving us his business card."
"I don't know. Let me think on this and I'll get back to you. Thanks for letting me know."
"Sure thing," said Clara.
Ivy thought about her cousin James. They'd spent quite a bit of time together as children. By high school only on holidays. When college time came around he went away to Cornell University in New York while she stayed in her hometown to be with Nana, going to a community college. Aunt Gwen lived thirty miles away and visited Nana from time to time and sometimes made excuses for James. On the day of the service he showed up.
"Hello Ivy," James said. "Its' been a long time." He slid into the pew next to her.
"Oh my goodness, James." She threw her arms around him, and found herself weeping. He loved Nana deeply growing up but life got crazy and he kind of drifted away, except for holiday calls and Nana's birthday.
"I had to come. I should have been more present in Nana's life all these years. This must be so hard for you Ivy."
"It is," she said, tears pouring.
He pulled her close and sat with his arm around her. Aunt Gwen sat on her other side and they all supported one another. After the service was over they went to the cemetery and laid Nana to rest. Although it was a cloudy day, as they lowered her into the ground, the clouds parted momentarily and the sun shone down on Nana's resting place.
After a few days of visiting, he'd said goodbye with a promise to keep in touch. Ivy didn't think he would. And now he was looking for her. However had he thought she might be here? When Ivy went to dinner she saw Clara.
"Clara, can you call my cousin and tell him I want to see him?"
"Of course, I'll contact him first thing tomorrow."
The next evening Ivy was sitting with some of the other patients chatting when she saw him walking through the lounging area. She froze for a moment, self conscious at her situation. But she stood up and walked toward him.
"Hey Cuz," he said with love in his eyes. "I thought you could use some..." Then she was in his arms and they embraced for a long moment.
"Come on, let's find a more private place," she said. They ended up in her room. She sat on the edge of her bed, and he in her chair. "How on earth did you find me, James?"
"It's a long story and I can tell it to you later, but right now I just want to hear how you are doing?"
"Well, I just couldn't cope with losing Nana. I just felt I couldn't go on living without her."
"You didn't hurt yourself did you?"
Ivy looked at the floor.
"Oh Ivy, I'm so glad you made it and you're here to get help. I'm sorry for your suffering, and I'm sorry I haven't been a good cousin. But I'm here now. Mom and I are very worried about you."
"Please don't worry. I've made a lot of progress and hope to be going home one day soon. Some really bad things have happened since I've been here, I lost a dear friend I made here. Cloe was her name. She was struck by a car in the parking area and it's been a nightmare. It seems like the most important people in my life have been stolen from me." She looked gratefully into his face and said, "Except you."
James hugged her. "Is the Cloe you're talking about in the news?"
He wiped a tear off her cheek the same way Cloe had one time. "Ivy, what can I do to help?"
"You're helping just being here. I didn't realize until just now how alone I've felt. Most everyone has visitors but me. For a long time I wanted it that way because I was embarrassed at being here and wanted my privacy. But lately its made me lonely to watch everyone else have visitors and me remain alone."
"You won't be alone anymore, Ivy. I'll visit as often as you'll let me. Mom wants to know if you need anything?"
"You know I have none of my own clothing from home. I've been wearing clothes from the hospital Clothes Closet. The clothes are those left behind by other patients."
"Of course. We'll get right on it."
There was a lengthy awkward silence. James felt overwhelmed to think she had tried to take her own life. He always felt bad for her for all the horrific traumas in her life. She confided a lot to him when they were growing up.
"Ivy, I want you to know I'm here for you in whatever way you need me. I'm going to be around for several weeks to help Mom settle Nana's affairs and to be here for you."
"Thank you, James. I can't believe you're here. "
They had another long embrace and he promised to return the next evening. After he left Ivy cried with relief, sorrow, and a thousand other feelings. Then she prayed prayers of gratitude.
Chapel - day 2
Dr. Wong arrived early once again the next day so he could spend some time in the chapel. He slid into the back pew as he did the day before. The holiness was still there. He sat quietly and ran through in his mind all he'd ever heard about God and Jesus, but there were so many pieces of the puzzle missing. His eyes held at the cross up front. What did the cross mean? And the Bible, the holy book of Christians, would it give him answers? The Bible was thick and he felt intimidated by it. He'd read many thick text books and novels in his time, but never a holy book. He felt unworthy to read it. And yet he felt such a void, desperateness and yearning for something, someone greater than the universe to help him out of the darkness. He felt the Christian God might be the answer. Ivy had said God was Creator and ruler of all.
He slid out of the pew to go to work, making a mental note to contact the hospital chaplain before the day was out.
© 2016 Lori Colbo