Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 9
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 by Eleanor Farjeon
From Blackbird has Spoken: Part 8
Ivy and Cloe both have the exact same dream which brings the promise of healing and hope.
Cloe is interviewed by a detective regarding the Dr. Stricklen incident.
Grassley kept asking more and more detailed questions and to repeat them several times, thus Cloe started to come unhinged. He particularly pushed to know whether if in the grabbing of her file she had in any way threatened or physically tried to harm the doctor.
Cloe wondered if Grassley might be a close relative of Dr. Weasel's the way he was treating her
"I've told you everything as it happened truthfully. How many times do I have to retell the details? I want to go back to my room."
"Ms. Ludlow, these are very serious allegations. If convicted, the doctor may go to jail for quite a while and may become a registered sex offender. This isn't fun and games."
Clara stood to her feet, livid. "Excuse me, Detective," she said with authority. She was not intimidated by this idiot. "Cloe has given you all the minute details. She is taking this extremely serious. There's no reason to accuse her of playing fun and games."
Dr. Wong stood up and put his hand firmly but gently on Clara's shoulder and she sat down. Succinctly, Dr. Wong simply said, "Detective Grassley, we appreciate your help, but Cloe cannot continue today. She needs rest. If you have more questions, come back another day, but talk to me first."
Today Cloe was being discharged. Despite the stress of three interviews with the detective and a few with her attorney, Cloe seemed to have turned a huge corner in her progress. The great hope was that with continued outpatient therapy and other support services, Cloe would find a good quality of life and not have to return to the hospital. But for Ivy, it was a sad day. She had to say goodbye, despite knowing she also would be discharged one day soon and their friendship would continue.
Ivy dressed slowly, wiping tears away every few seconds. "Come on, Ivy. Get it together," she lectured herself. ''This goodbye is not forever. Don't let this drag you down. You and Cloe will see and talk to each other soon enough."
After getting ready for the day, Ivy sat in the chair in the corner and picked up the Bible she'd requested from the hospital chaplain. She opened it randomly, falling on Philippians 1:3 - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you..." Ivy gave thanks at all the memories of Cloe, good and bad, and their deep bond of friendship. She took a deep breath, went to the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water, and went to have her last hospital breakfast with her best friend.
Laughing and weeping
Cloe and Ivy had just joined the other patients for breakfast. They wanted badly to talk but knew the dam of tears would burst and they didn't want to make a scene. When their food was eaten and the patients began to file out to goals group, Ivy and Cloe lingered at the table.
They looked at each other, feeling the emotions ready to spew at any second. Cloe burst out laughing. Ivy stared at her, bewildered.
"Cloe, what are you laughing about? I'm trying to hold myself together to say goodbye and you're laughing."
Cloe laughed harder, slapping her hand on the table, a habit that always delighted Ivy. Then Ivy was laughing. They looked at each other and laughed harder, tears pouring. Doubled over now, they were completely out of control.
Gasping, Ivy asked, "Cloe, what are we laughing about?" She returned to her hysterics.
"Because it's so funny how we can't say goodbye because we're afraid we'll get too emotional." A few gales more and she said, "Oh Ivy, you should have seen your face."
"Ya? You should have seen yours."
Suddenly the tears of laughter became tears of sadness. Not caring about the no touch rule, they embraced for a long moment, then Cloe pulled away.
"Okay, enough is enough. I won't be sprung until later this afternoon with all the paperwork stuff they have to do, and I have to visit with Dr. Wong one last time."
Ivy was sympathetic. "I know that's going to be hard. I'm dreading it myself when I get discharged. It'll be okay."
Tears were on there way so Cloe stood up. "Okay, let's get to goals group before they have to readmit me."
The laughter started all over again.
Saying goodbye to Dr Wong
"Cloe," Dr. Wong said, "Look how far you've come. I'm so proud of you."
She grabbed a Kleenex and blew her nose. "Thank you. I'm sorry. For the first time, I'm glad to be going home since I started coming here. I don't plan on coming back, but I'm having to say goodbye to you and the staff. You all have been so good to me over the years. Dr. Wong, you are like no other doctor I've ever had. You're not just my doctor, you're my friend."
"Yes, I am both, Cloe. Of course we will miss you very much. We hope you don't ever have to come back as patient. There is good life ahead. I know your psychologist, Dr. Oberlin. Good friend and colleague of mine. Since you sign release of information, I speak with her this morning and tell her you turn a corner. Work hard with her Cloe. You are stronger than you think."
"Yes, Dr. Oberlin is awesome. I do feel stronger."
"So tell me, Cloe, what plans do you have when you get home today?"
"Hm. You know how much I love to cook, right?"
"Yes, I remember. What are you going to cook?"
"Some good comfort food. Chicken and dumplings."
Dr. Wong's stomach growled. It was close to lunch time.
"Cloe Ludlow, that is not fair, your Dr. Wong is hungry, starving. What else are you planning?"
Dr. Wong's strategy to guide Cloe toward goal planning for the next day or two was working. She had a sense of peace and purpose in going home. How long had it been since she actually looked forward to going home without feeling unsafe and alone? She could not remember. An idea popped into her head.
"Dr. Wong, would it be okay if I made you a batch of homemade Churros and brought them in?"
His face lit up as if he'd won the lottery. "Cloe, are you kidding? But you must make enough for staff or there will be a rising up."
"I believe you mean an uprising."
"Oh, yes, uprising," he said, embarrassed.
"I will be happy to make some for the staff."
"Tell me, how is it going with our friend Ivy? We hear you laughing at breakfast. Laughter sound like music."
"I think it was an emotional release.The laughing turned to crying."
"You have deep bond."
"Yes we do. But she'll be discharged soon enough."
"That is our plan, Cloe."
It was time to part. Cloe had discharge matters to attend to and he needed to see more patients. He stood to initiate the goodbye and stuck out his hand and they shook warmly. It seemed insufficient.
Cloe said, "To heck with handshakes. Dr. Wong, how long have we known each other? Forget about rules, I want a hug."
Before Dr. Wong knew it she was hugging him. Unused to such displays with patients he blushed."
"Cloe, You have strength and courage. I wish you all best."
"God bless you, Dr Wong. I won't forget you, and I won't forget the churros." Tears were impatient to return, so she turned and left.
Dr. Wong felt a joy and excitement for Cloe's future. He would miss her very much. He remembered the faith she and Ivy had shared with him and hoped this God of theirs would care for her. He was not sure of who this God was but knew somehow He was real.
One last art project for the road
Cloe was waiting to finalize her crisis plan, but Clara had been delayed with another patient. She decided to go into the recreation room where an art group was about to start. Tiffany, the recreational therapist who had led the group on the walk where Cloe ran off was in charge. She had seen and read in Cloe's records that she had turned a corner and was delighted.
"Welcome, Cloe. I'm glad you're joining us on your last day."
Cloe smiled. "So, what are we doing today?"
"Well," Tiffany said, "today we're going to make a gratitude card, or as many as we have time for, to give to someone."
Cloe's heart burst with excitement. The table was full of art supplies and Cloe dove right in. She hoped the cards she was making would convey the depth of her gratitude.
When the class was over Cloe gathered her work and stopped at the door to say goodbye to Tiffany. She handed her a card.
"Tiffany, I feel like I won't be back. That's a good thing, but I will miss you. I made this for you."
Tiffany's long slender hands accepted the card.
"Thank you, Cloe. I will miss you, but I hope you don't have to come back. "
"I haven't told this to anyone yet, but I've been thinking of starting some sort of art therapy group myself. Informal of course, I don't have a degree."
"Cloe, I think that is wonderful. You would do so well at something like that. Take care."
"Thank you, you too," Cloe said.
To Ivy with love
Ivy was watching the clock. Nana had always said "A watched clock never ticks." She was in a class about mental disorders. The counselor crammed the white board so tight with mental disorders, symptoms and other related terms it was hard to read. 'This is lame,' Ivy thought.
"Excuse me, I'm going to the restroom," she said, and hurried off to find Cloe. She stopped at the front desk.
"Muriel, where can I find Cloe?"
"Oh, Ivy, I'm sorry, but you missed her by twenty minutes. She had to go. They had a patient waiting for a bed down in ER."
Ivy's spirit sagged to the ground. Muriel handed her a bright colored envelope with Ivy's name on the front.
"She told me to give this to you as she was leaving," said Muriel.
Ivy took the envelope, thanked Muriel, and headed to her room.
"Ivy?" Muriel called. "She said she'd call you."
Ivy's heart skipped a beat. She'd not thought of the possibility of Cloe calling her. She went to her room, laid on the bed, and opened the envelope. The card made her heart flutter. Cloe made a blackbird with a key in it's mouth, standing on a bed of flowers. The inside of the card read:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22-23).
Grammy had me memorize this verse when I was a little girl. It came to me today that it fits with the song Grammy and Nana taught us. The song that brought us together, remember? Here is our blackbird from the song that spoke of morning breaking. He holds a key that represents the unlocking of hope for us. God's mercies are new EVERY morning. He's faithful to give them. We both entered this place by trying to end what we thought a hopeless life. Through God's mercy and compassion we met, and somehow through the mess we went through together he's showed us the way to freedom. You pledged that you'd be willing to live for me, to give me hope, not die for me. What a gift to me that was. Thank you seems insufficient, but thank you to the moon and back, dear friend.
I'm going to work hard toward recovery and trust God even when the road gets bumpy. You do the same, and when you are discharged from here, which I know will be soon, we'll help and cheer one another on. I can't wait.
With Love, Cloe
PS Keep an eye on Dr. Wong for me! ♥
Two days after Cloe's discharge, she entered an elevator at Mercy Hospital with two plates of warm, home baked churros, covered by white cloth napkins. She hit the eleven button with her elbow and thought how strange it felt to be returning in this context. She got to the locked double doors of the mental health unit and picked up the phone. Muriel answered.
"Hi, Muriel, it's Cloe. I have a special delivery."
"Come on in, Cloe. Dr. Wong's been waiting."
Cloe heard the click of the locks and the doors opened. As she entered the front desk area the blessed aroma of hot cinnamon filled Muriel's nostrils. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
"Cloe, you are a woman after this cranky old woman's heart. My goodness, you've made enough for an army."
"Yes, this plate is for the staff, and this one is specifically for Dr. Wong alone."
"Oh, I see how it is," Muriel said, feigning offense. "How come he gets more?"
"Now Muriel, don't give me a bad time. It's quiet, where is everyone?"
"Oh you know, groups, classes, doctor visits, the usual."
"Right. I was hoping I'd run into Ivy or Dr. Wong."
"Well, what am I, chopped liver?"
"Muriel, you know you're my favorite mental health office manager."
"Ha! I'm the only mental health office manager you know." Muriel winked and took the plates. "I will say thank you on behalf of us all. Good to see you looking so well, Cloe."
"Good to see you too, Muriel. Oh, can you give this to Dr. Wong when you give him the churros?"
She reached into her bag and took out a brightly colored envelope with Dr. Wong's name on the front.
"Sure thing, Cloe. I'll see that he gets it. You take care, hon."
Struck by evil
Cloe smiled to herself as she made her way to her car parked in the hospital underground lot. She was thinking about the smile on Dr. Wong's face when he received his gift. She was so lost in thought she found herself forgetting where she'd parked. She stood in the center of the main lane and looked to the sign posted on a cement pillar which told her she was on level two. She did remember she'd parked on the first level so she headed to the elevator at the far end of the lot. Suddenly she heard a vehicle screeching around the corner and barrellng right toward her. She froze in horror at the realization they weren't slowing or swerving to miss her. There was impact and she was gone.
The car sped off. The driver felt certain he'd not been seen by anyone in the lot. But he knew there were security cameras. His payer had arranged a vehicle, how he didn't care as long as it wasn't stolen. He wore sunglasses and a baseball cap as well. The adrenaline still pulsed through his body as he felt the power he possessed to kill. He felt the thrill of soon receiving the million dollar purse he'd been promised when the deed was done. In just a few short hours he would be on a private jet to Bangkok for a nice long vacation before his next hit.
Thank you, Dr. Wong
Dr. Wong felt like stone - hard, heavy and numb - as he sat at the kitchen table and held the card from Cloe. It was three a.m. The Churros were still on the plate on the counter with the napkin over it, cold and greasy. Bile filled his throat every time he looked at it. He knew he would never eat another churro again. He slipped the card out of the envelope and tried to steel himself before reading it. There was a bluebird on the outside with the words thank you. He marveled at Cloe's creativity and skill. He swallowed hard as he began to read:
Dearest Dr. Wong,
The churros came out good, don't you think? I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to spread my wings and fly. I've only been home two days but it feels good to be here. It also feels kind of strange, like riding a bike for the first time without training wheels and my Grammy to run alongside me. I'm learning to live, not to hide and I have you and Ivy and God to thank. I know Ivy is in good hands with you to help her over the hurdles necessary for her to go home. Dr. Wong, you are a treasure I will always cherish in my heart. May God bless you with His love and strength.
With Love, Cloe
Dr. Wong dropped the card on the table and wept.
© 2016 Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.