Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Lose a Life

Yes, I know I said I would go back to being an irresponsible, sarcastic goober after I wrote Conversations with Myself, but I find that I must have one more serious discussion. This week I have no doubt used all of the days I might have had off over the weekends for NaBloPoMo. Who knows, maybe this month won't even count, and I'm okay with that.
Two days after I had a long talk with the young lady that inspired the above post, I got a frantic call from her grandmother (who she lives with) around 9pm. This girl wanted to take her own life. This wasn't screaming, raging, attention-getting teenage behavior; this girl was calm and quiet and had actually asked her grandmother to call me. She knew she needed help and she was scared. She also called her mother who lives nearby.
On my way there I made a fast call to my friend who helps with suicide prevention and got advise from him and he helped to calm me down. He assured me her calling for help was a positive thing. She was fighting against dying. She wanted to live and she knew she could trust me. I was relieved and quickly made it to her house.
She answered the door when I got there and I immediately dropped my purse and cane and held her in my arms. She welled over with tears and buried her face in my chest as I stroked her hair and kissed her head. I told her over and over that I love her and that I would help her. Everything would be okay. Then a scrawny woman in pajamas, sporting a mullet and a fever blister the size of a dime walked by us and looked at us with contempt. She was smoking a strong cigarette in this house where no one smokes. She kept sticking a tissue up alternating nostrils. The young lady sighed and said “That's my mom. She came in and just sighed when she walked by me. It surprised me when you hugged me”. I tried to reserve judgment despite what I'd heard about this woman and I continued to hold (I'm going to start calling this young lady Jane) – I continued to hold Jane.
Her mother walked by a second time and shuffled into the entryway we were standing in and sniffed and looked at no one in particular and said “I dunno why she's doin' this... Actin' this way”. I felt my face flush and I said more sternly than I meant to “Because sometimes sixteen year olds have real problems and they need help!” It makes me angry now to recall it. She shuffled back out of the room and lit another cigarette. Just a note: Jane has asthma, but her mother “Just has to smoke. She can't help it”. Alrighty then.
We got Jane to the hospital. Her mother only wanted to take her to the local one – which misdiagnosed my stroke, left my lying in my own vomit another time and nearly killed me on a third visit. Most people won't go there even if they have lost a major body part. I insisted we take her to the one in the next town and her mother tried to say she didn't have gas, she didn't know if her car would make it, etc... I finally told her to get into my car, she could ride with me. I told her she couldn't smoke in it though. Suddenly her car was able to make it just fine. Jane and her grandmother rode with me. The mother rode with one of her two boyfriends.
When they called Jane back they would only let her choose one of us to go. She chose me, which was an honor, but frankly awkward as hell. I stayed back there with her and listened to her tell the doctor everything. This baby was cutting herself, had planned on just swallowing all of her medicine including a whole bottle of sleep medicine. She cried and the hurt in her pervaded the room. The doctor was so kind and understanding. He wasn't judgmental in the least and promised to help her. He said they would send her to a place for a few days to get help and Jane agreed to this. I held her as she cried and unloaded more of her life on me. I knew a good deal of it anyway, but it helped her to talk about it.
Her mother came back just as the doctor was finishing his consult and the doctor kindly told her mother that Jane had been cutting herself since third grade and the last time was two weeks ago on the insides of her thighs. Her mother got so angry. She looked at Jane and said “Why didn't you tell me you was doin' that shit? I swear doctor, I didn't know she was doin' none of it”. Jane grimaced at her mother and said “Mom, it's not something I'd show you. It's not like I'd stand around and go, 'look what I did last night'”. When the doctor left he told the mother she would have to stay and sign some papers. It would be a while as they had to contact the on-call psyche doctor.
Her mother waited until the doctor left and then right in front of me said “I can't BELIEVE you told them that stuff, Jane. What the hell? I wanna go home. Now I'm gonna have to stay here even longer. If you hadn't told them all that crap we could go home now. You didn't need to tell them all that cutting stuff. Good God, Jane!” I thanked providence that I was on the other side of the hospital bed. Jane looked at her mother and laughed and said clearly keeping secrets had done wonders for her so far. That woman walked in and out of that room all night long and griped about wanting to leave. At 2am, she said she'd had it, she was going. The doctor told her she couldn't she'd have to sign admission papers. That's when I heard that mother say she didn't want Jane. She wished she could just get rid of her. I was shocked into silence. When I found my voice all I could do was look at her and quietly say “well, you almost got what you wanted tonight”.
The mother did end up and leave. She wouldn't go with Jane to admit her to the new hospital which is just over an hour away. I stayed with her until that morning when they finally took her, followed the ambulance down and saw that she was settled in. On the way back I called the grandmother and informed her that the mom HAD to go down and sign, I was coming to get her. The grandmother called me twice during that ride saying the mom wouldn't go, but I told her she would go, or I'd pick her up and put her in the trunk and take her. I got there and the mother said her car wouldn't make it. I said I knew, which was why I was there. To come get her. At this point I'd already picked up my mom on the way back because I was too exhausted to drive. Finally, since she couldn't smoke, the mother ended up getting in her own car and driving the hour anyway. I was so angry. Why was I even there? It didn't matter at that point. I had her follow me back to the hospital that was an hour away, she signed some stuff, and then I had her follow me back home. I was close to collapse at this point and now that Jane was safe, I just wanted to sleep. Special thanks to my mom for doing those last two trips.
Folks, I've just never seen a mother so cold and cruel. A woman who is more worried about herself than her child. She kept saying “I guess I'm going to have to cancel my doctor appointment tomorrow so's I can sleep all day”. Well, actually, no. You don't have to. As it turned out, I had an appointment too. I made it. I had to drive an hour back to the city and back the next day to bring Jane's things to her. I went to a friend's home where I got a hug, breakfast and a nap and I paced their living room and ranted, then I had to leave again. Yesterday we went to see her to take her a plastic plug for her nose-ring hole. That mom didn't bother to go.

If you can't handle kids, if you are so cold that you don't have a particle of love to give a child and you are more enamored of your pet chinchilla than you are of your own kid, don't have that kid. Okay, just don't. Give it up for adoption, or (this will get me hate mail), just have an abortion. After all, we do have that right. Don't wait to let that kid get into this world, purposefully mess it's head up so bad it wants to die anyway, and tell it you don't want it. Don't hurt someone that way. You have just set someone loose in the world that has no role model of love, kindness, empathy or compassion. You have perpetuated yourself. To that mother: I hope you sleep well at night, knowing that a woman who has known your daughter for two years has the honor of being called her mommy. She calls you by your first name, much like one calls a dog.