Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 6
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, lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 5
Friends Ivy and Cloe have an early morning private talk, sharing their stories of personal tragedy and trauma, and how they were trying to overcome them.
Ivy has a spiritual encounter with God in her room as she watches the city out the window. She is given a reason to go on.
Dr. Wong brings comfort to grieving Ivy, and also helps Cloe through a dissociative episode by telling her a story from his childhood.
"God, I'm so sad for Cloe, and for myself, and every person on this ward. All those people down there have no idea that just eleven floors up are some of the most broken, despairing, and traumatized people on earth, and we're just trying to get through another day. They don't even know and if they did they would not likely care. To them we'd just be a bunch of mental defectives who have lost their minds... I heard Your precious promises, I read them and memorized them with Nana, and I knew Your love so many times. I don't feel it now. I want to feel it. I need to feel it or I don't think I can go on. I have nothing and no one else. Help me to see and know You through the murky darkness that lies and tells me there is no hope. There has to be hope because You are God and you live and reign forever."
The sun burst over the city horizon, casting a pink and amber glow through Ivy's window, and piercing her eyelids. She'd forgotten to draw the curtains last night, darn it. She checked the clock - five forty two. She dragged herself out of bed, glanced at the breathtaking sunrise unappreciatively, closed the curtains tight, and hopped back into bed. A fierce sense of foreboding woke her every few minutes. Finally she got up and showered and dressed, but the anxiety grew. 'Nothing is wrong, Ivy,' she chided herself. 'Why do you feel like the world is going to fall out from under you?' There was a knock on her door. She opened the door to nurse Helen carrying the med tray.
"Are you okay, Ivy? You seem rather anxious."
"Yes, I am. I have this sense of impending doom. I'm going out of my skin. You have something for me there?"
"Yes, of course."
Ivy took the medication and looked at Helen helplessly.
"Why don't we do the breathing technique we taught you yesterday."
Helen guided her through the breathing exercise, to no avail. Helen said morning goals would start in fifteen minutes.
While Ivy waited, she suddenly felt frightened about what it would be like to go home. 'How weird is it that I'm afraid to leave a psych ward?' she thought. She grabbed her sweater and set out to the morning group.
When she sat down, Cloe came in and sat next to her.
"Hey," said Cloe.
"Well, you look bright eyed and bushy tailed," Ivy said, offended.
"Gee, sorry. No offense, but you look...off. You okay?"
"No, but who cares."
At breakfast Ivy picked at her food. They made her drink decaf, which she hated and complained to Cloe.
"I can never taste the difference," said Cloe.
"Well, bully for you!"
Garret came by their table. "I've got good news for you two."
"We could use some good news," said Cloe.
"Dr. Wong has given you two off unit privileges. You can go downstairs accompanied by a staff member. Today a group walk is planned. Be good to get some fresh air, don't you think?"
Ivy didn't seem to care.
"Ivy, you okay? Can I help?" Cloe asked.
"No, I don't need help. I'm just in a bad mood." Ivy stormed off to her room leaving Cloe puzzled and hurt.
Talking through fear
Ivy sat down in the ugly green molded chair in front of Dr. Wong.
"Ivy, how are you today?" said Dr. Wong.
"I have this intense feeling of fear. It's making me crazy. The medication isn't working. I can't shake this."
"Hmm. Ivy, you have worries? Something that weighing on you?"
"One thing comes to mind. It's crazy, but I'm uncomfortable about the thought of going home. It feels unsafe. I'll be all alone. But there's more to this anxiety today. I don't know what."
"Uh huh. Ivy, that not unusual. Most people here feel that way. We work to prepare you here. Groups, therapy, medications, give you tools. Very important you listen and apply tools."
"What tool do I use to shake this yucky, scary feeling in my gut? I can hardly stand it."
"Sometime that kind of anxiety might be fear of loss, or something bad is going to happen to someone you love. Does that sound like a true ring?"
"Does it sound like a true ring?"
"A true ring? I'm not following," Ivy replied, clueless.
"Oh, Wong mixed up. A true ring. Does what I say apply to you?"
"Oh, you mean does it ring true?"
Wong laughed out loud. "Yes. I have secret for you, Ivy."
"Oh, I love secrets."
Wong lowered his voice. "Don't tell anyone, Ivy, but I use Urban Dictionary all the time. I say things wrong, people get confused. Sometime they shocked. Staff here say, 'Dr. Wong, that not how you say it,' or 'You can't say that, it mean this bad thing.' Sometime people say things I don't understand. Sometimes I think it mean something different. I get so embarrassed. Staff always tease me."
Ivy's anxieties fled as she fell into giggles.
"Oh, Dr. Wong, do you realize you are a comedic genius?"
"Hmm, thank you. Back to question, does fear of loss or bad thing happening to loved one ring true?"
Ivy found it hard to turn on a dime, from laughter to pain. She sat quietly to compose herself. Dr. Wong waited with patient understanding.
"I guess it does, yes."
"Ivy, let's talk about your fears."
For the next twenty minutes Dr. Wong and Ivy explored these things together. She was overwhelmed that this doctor cared so deeply. He was a committed and trustworthy professional and friend. As she opened the door to leave, she felt a longing to tell him she loved him. Words failed her, so she just said thank you and left.
Ivy and Cloe ate lunch in near silence. In her potent anxiety, Ivy was short and curt with Cloe. Cloe decided to chat with Jeb, letting Ivy deal with whatever it was she was dealing with, alone.
As lunch was wrapping up, a perky Tiffany Mayhew, the recreational therapist for the day, announced the walk would start in fifteen minutes. Cloe tried to inspire delight into Ivy. Ivy didn't bite. "Read my lips, Cloe, I'm not in the mood."
Cloe had had enough. "Listen, Ivy, I'm sorry you're having a bad day, but I'm done with your rudeness. Pick on someone else." Cloe turned and joined the others who would be going.
Ivy stormed off to her room. Sitting on her bed she thought what gall Cloe had talking to her like that. Cloe ought to know what it's like to have anxiety. She should show some respect and give Ivy her space. She became so caught up into a tumultuous cycle of rage and fear, she felt she would die from it's power. So she did her breathing, prayed for peace, and joined the group for the walk.
A Walk in the park
Ivy found Cloe and took her aside. With tears, she apologized and asked for forgiveness. Cloe offered a reserved "I forgive you," then they joined the group.
It was strange to Ivy to be walking out the locked double doors that had housed her pain and fears the last two weeks; where the only two people left in the world that loved her, and the only two that she had left to love, were by her side every day. She felt vulnerable, and wanted to flee back to her eleventh floor home.
The elevator was filled with the chatter of broken friends, about to test the waters of freedom. It would be good to be reminded that the world had been carrying on, and would still be turning whenever they returned for good. Finally they stepped outdoors. Ivy inhaled deeply, closed her eyes, and lifted her face to the sun. She felt God's welcome.
They walked a few blocks, listening to birds, watching traffic and people on the street. They saw a woman rummage through her purse that rested on the hood of her car, cursing her own idiocy for locking her keys in the car. Only a few minutes ago, Ivy was afraid to venture out the double locked doors, and now she craved to be in this normal woman's shoes. 'Did the woman appreciate such an insignificant problem?'
Soon they entered a small park. A glorious breeze whispered through the trees. Their movement seemed to be a waving welcome. Tiffany encouraged everyone to enjoy, but not to stray outside a certain area. No one was to be out of sight of Tiffany. "We'll head back at 2:30," she said.
The girls sat on a bench and watched two little girls being pushed by their Mommy on the swings. Mommy's timing and cadence were flawless.
"My grammy used to push me so high, my mom was afraid I would sail off the swing and break my neck," Cloe said. "She'd sing a silly song she made up while pushing me."
"Sing it for me," said Ivy.
Cloe sang the song.
"Swing, sweet Cloe, high in the sky,
sing to the birds for wings to fly.
Soar high up to the sun,
clear to outer space;
but don't let your skirt
fly back into your face.
The friends laughed.
"I love your grammy," Ivy said. "Cloe, I want to ask you a question?"
"Well, you are so cheerful most of the time. I'm just wondering what brings you to the hospital so often?"
"The world doesn't feel safe. And, like you, I've tried to end it all...more than once. And sometimes I do things I don't remember doing. One time I found myself a hundred miles away and didn't remember how I got there. I do other crazy stuff."
"I'm really sorry, Cloe." She read Cloe's face that she didn't want to talk about it any further. "Are you going home soon?"
"The very thought always sends me into a panic. I can't live with the constant fear, horrible memories, and the lapses in time. I hate the humiliation of wigging out. That's why I've tried to, you know, end it."
Ivy swallowed hard. "Cloe, let's pinky swear we'll stay alive. If we stick together, we'll be able to love and support one another."
Cloe didn't respond. Ivy looked over at her friend. Cloe's head was down and tears were starting to trickle down her face. Ivy felt sick at heart.
Ivy's sadness turned to anger all of a sudden. She stopped Cloe and looked into her face.
"Cloe," she said, "pinky swear you won't do it."
Cloe turned away.
"Cloe," Ivy demanded. "Pinky swear. You can't do it. I won't let you. Now swear."
Cloe grew dark and shoved Ivy hard. "Who do you think you are, telling me what to do?"
Ivy was startled but came back. "I'm telling you what not to do, Cloe. Don't you dare leave me alone. I swear if you do I'll kill you."
Cloe was too disturbed to laugh. "You idiot. Do you realize what you just said?"
Ivy wasn't amused either. "I don't care. I'll never forgive you if you..."
"Listen, back off! Whatever I do or don't do with my life is none of your business. Now get away from me." Cloe shoved her again and stormed off.
"Cloe, come back here. Don't you walk away from me."
Cloe began to run. Ivy chased her through the park. Tiffany called after them, but they didn't hear. Cloe dashed through some shrubs that brought her into the parking lot of a medical building and ran off as if driven by the devil. Ivy flew through the shrubs and fell forward onto the pavement, skinning knees and elbows. She staggered up and kept running. She could see the pink of Cloe's hair round a corner and out of sight.
"Cloe, stop, you spoiled little brat."
Cloe ran another block and ducked into a business complex. Ivy, close behind, saw a flash of her pink hair again and followed into the building after her. Ivy saw that the elevator was going up. She pushed the buttons frantically. Then she heard a commotion and turned to see a middle aged woman on a staircase, about to fall. The woman righted herself after cursing the person who nearly knocked her over. Ivy flew past the woman up the stairs.
"Cloe, stop it. Quit acting like this." She could hear Cloe stomping up the stairs. It sounded like she was tired and slowing, but she kept going. Ivy found herself on a landing and could see a door shutting down the corridor. She plowed through the door finding herself in an office with a startled, glamorous business woman and a handsome, impeccably dressed executive, obviously in the throes of flirting.
"Where's Cloe?" she demanded.
"We don't know anyone named Cloe," said the woman, annoyed.
"She just came through this door. She has blonde and pink hair. Where is she?" Ivy was heaving and doubled over.
"Look, lady," said the man, clearly piqued for the interruption. "We don't know a Cloe and no one but me just came through that door."
"Oh, God. My friend might be trying to kill herself. I've got to find her."
"I'll call security," said the woman.
Ivy headed for the door.
"I'll help you," said the man, shrugging off his jacket. When they got into the corridor he took charge. "What's your name?"
"Ivy. I don't have time for chit chat."
"I'm Trenton, Ivy. I know this building. When you get to the end of the hall, go through the double doors and you'll find a stairway. I'll meet you up there, if I don't see Cloe."
Ivy nodded, too winded and frantic and to speak. She pushed through the doors and began the steep climb. She stopped a few stairs up and held her burning chest. Her legs felt like gelatin. She could not seem to catch her breath. She had a good ten years on Cloe, clearly not as fit. After a moment she began her staggering climb up the stairs. Her legs felt heavy as boulders. She stopped again, doubling over.
"Cloe, Cloe, you crazy..." She forced herself to continue. Suddenly she saw Trenton come out a door and run past her. "She's been spotted by the..." His voice trailed off as he grew farther away.
Ivy began to sob and try to run at the same time. Her calves were searing. After an eternity, she found herself at the top of the staircase. She went through a door there and found herself on the roof. The trepidation and horror of what she might find nearly knocked her to the floor. She ran around frantically on the roof but saw nothing. Where was Trenton? Where was Cloe? Oh God, I can't do this.
© 2016 Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.