Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office
I listened to my messages between patients. The news wasn’t good but explained why Lizzie had missed her last appointment. She had attempted suicide at her parent’s house. They found her in the bathtub, gashes across her wrists. At least that’s what I was told when I called the hospital where she was struggling for her life.
She would now be in the hands of other professionals, her situation beyond my expertise. While I saw many troubled young people at the student health center where I consulted, I knew Lizzie would need a level of treatment beyond the centers capacity - and mine.
My heart ached as I slumped into the same chair Lizzie had sat in less than two weeks ago. I wondered if she had told her parents after all. I wondered if she had decided it was just too much, the pain too great to live another day.
I pictured her young body, limp in the water, life oozing and rippling away as her blood turned the water a brighter shade of red. My stomach ached with such a fierceness and I felt bile work its way up my throat and into my mouth as I fought to keep from vomiting. I had to pull myself together. I had other patients.
Rubbing my own wrists I looked at the scars that reminded me why I had connected so strongly with Lizzie.
Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home
Winter in Chicago had dragged on for so long that I thought it would never end. Mounds of piled snow - now turned to ice - still littered parking lots and sides of streets where plows had pushed it out of the way. It was the middle of March and we were still battling the winter blues, another storm on its way.
After fifteen years I was finally getting used to the cold grey winters of the Midwest. Being a Southern California girl by birth and nature it had proved a hard adjustment and just when I thought I was turning the corner a brutal winter made me wonder why I moved here in the first place.
I knew why and that reason had left me long ago. But I was here now and so was my life, what there was of it these days. I silently chastised myself for having a pity party as I unloaded the dishwasher, looking out the window for any signs of the sun to lift me out of this horrible funk I was in.
Dana had spent the night at a friends house and my anxiety level increased as I wondered if we’d ever be close again. I knew that the mother-daughter relationship was a difficult one. Hell, I worked with the failed results of it everyday at the student health center. I just didn’t want to be part of that statistic.
Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office
"Stop trying to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic, Georgia. You need to lower the life boats, get in, make sure they don’t leak and that you’re headed in a good direction."
Scenes from the latest remake of the movie with Kate and Leo popped into my head. Only she had someone to hold onto as the boat sank. Then I reminded myself of what happened next and decided that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t in the cards.
"That’s right." Regina’s voice cut through my mental game of tag. I looked away from the window and saw her knowing eyes piercing through the frenzy I was working myself into.
"Ouch." I vocalized the pain I was feeling. She was the one person in the world who I could count on to keep me grounded. Now I just needed to learn to do that for myself.
"Has Dana talked to her father yet."
"No." It was the truth - at least I thought it was. For all I knew she could be calling him since I really wasn’t privy to any of her phone calls. She had become increasingly secretive and withdrawn from me.
"Okay - I haven’t even broached the subject with her yet." I didn’t even try to lie or mislead Regina. It was impossible to do.
"Why not?" Her voice was gentle but stern.
"I’m afraid, that’s why!" My voice was harsher than I intended.
"Of what?" She wasn’t going to let me off the hook so easily.
"Of losing my daughter." I felt the tears finally come as I sank into the big overstuffed chair identical to the one in my office. Regina and I found them at an estate sale and both fell in love with them instantly. Good thing there were two of them!
"And being alone." I finally added trying to be honest with myself.
Regina got up and sat on the edge of the chair and put her arm around me. "You’re not alone, Georgia. Dana will always be your daughter and despite how it seems right now, you know that she loves you very much. She’s just trying to navigate the teen years which are hell on all concerned." She got up and grabbed the box of tissues.
"Besides, what am I? Chopped liver?"
She pulled the box away from me until I answered.
"That’s better. Now, get out there and enjoy life!" The laughter in her voice made me smile - a deep smile - and it felt good.