cura librorum

the visit
May 11, 2011, 00:59
Filed under: Thoughts

It was yellow and pale all around, from the walls to the complexion of the receiving nurse staff. I saw the world through wide eyes held plastically open, and I felt strangely numb, walking up to him for inspection before I could be received. I systematically handed him the flowers (no ceramic flowerpot), her computer and laptop charger (must be held by the nurse in the supervised room at all times), and he handed me her headphones with a shake of his head. “Put these in your purse, and put your bag in that locker,” he said, gesturing, “and don’t bring them inside.” I was beginning to see a trend.

He then inspected the clothes I’d brought in. He pulled the shoelaces out of the shoes. He tugged at the string of the sweater’s hood until it came out all the way. Then he held up the plastic bag I’d brought the clothes in.  “The last successful suicide attempt in this psychiatric ward was with a plastic bag -” His voice rang a knell in my empty chamber – “You’d better make sure that this bag comes out of the ward when you leave.”

Watching each item being stripped away I felt like layers of dignity and agency were being stripped away with them. I wanted to snatch these unoffensive offensive items from his hands and to hand them to her freely, to prove that she was capable of handling the shoelaces and the plastic bags of this world. I wanted to put the ceramic pot in her hands and urge her to plant something in it and let it grow and flourish. I wanted desperately for her to take the shoelaces and tie up her shoes and walk confidently out into the sun.

But I had nothing in my hands I walked down the hall to greet her where she was sitting, curled up in a chair, staring out the window. “Hi,” I breathed gently, careful to remove any sharpness from my voice. I tangled and interlaced my fingers behind my back as I looked at her. “How are you?”

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