It’s time to visit The Child, and since my car isn’t in the garage, I exit through the front door, where I discover a gift bag waiting on the porch. A friend I was supposed to see that morning has left it, and it’s filled with instant soup packets, Hershey’s Hugs, a travel bottle of extra-strength Tylenol, and several pop-top cans of wine. I smile, then wonder what the social worker would think of me drinking wine, then wonder how things got to a point where I am wondering what anyone would think of someone having an occasional nip of cheap wine from a bright green aluminum can.
I unpack the bag in the kitchen, then microwave some soup, and realize it’s the first thing I’ve eaten all day even though it’s well into the afternoon.
At the hospital, I attempt to deliver a coloring book and pencils to The Child, but the nurse on guard won’t allow the pencils: safety reasons. She offers crayons, which I don’t think will work very well in the intricate designs. I give it to The Child apologetically, hoping she will see my good intentions.
She is miserable.
She’s still in her glass-walled room, but there’s nobody to talk to, nothing to do, and she can’t leave or even shower unaccompanied. She tried to request food and it took 40 minutes to arrive and wasn’t enough. She wants to know when she can leave; she wants to go to the psychiatric hospital.
I don’t really have any control over that, I tell her.
She apologizes for my canceled business trip, and I offer a reply in a flat voice, one I hope is neutral.
She wants more: She demands some show of emotions from me, but I have none to offer. I don’t know what I might say that might set her off; I don’t know how to remain silent in a way that won’t set her off, so after repeated attempts at conversation, I tell her that.
Tears well up in her eyes, so I leave.
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