One payphone was in a small cutout in the wall halfway down the hallway, and the other right outside the entrance of the day room (which was at the very end of the hall, in the darkest part of that windowless corridor)- so given the constantly pacing residents, neither gave you any privacy or means for a conversation that wasn’t being poorly eavesdropped. I picked up the call on the mid-hallway phone, and shooed someone away, who had come up to me to ask for a cigarette. It was my mother. Usually she stressed me the fuck out, but since being put here I was more desperate for a familiar voice than I ever thought my kind could be in a lifetime.
News that there was apparently nothing more I or anyone could legally do to get me out any time soon. I might be able to get a lawyer, but I was still stuck here for God knows how long. It only fanned the burning panic in my brain, because I couldn’t hold it together any longer. I very clearly knew the edge of psychosis and I was teetering again; and this place was about to push me over and I’d be stuck- even further down the crazy fucking rabbit hole and farther away from the dream of ever feeling the light of a new day again.
“Sherice couldn’t do anything at all?”
“Her hands are tied, she had no idea they could keep you for so long. If it makes you feel any better she says she’ll hold a bed for you and ‘gladly take you back.’ That is, if you can convince Dr. Cillian why it’s in your best interests to send you there, and not to another random hospital…”
I would have never fucking agreed to let Sherice drive me to the ER. I should have just bled out. I was tired. No wait- otherwise she was going to call the police. Oh yeah. One look at the canvas of my skin and they could legally hold me against my will. Worst deal ever. How was I supposed to know they’d want a full body check just for a reintake assessment?
“Try to find a woman named Shayla this weekend. She’s working your case. You have to find *her*. They’re apparently not used to people trying to advocate for themselves and won’t bother finding you. Don’t let her leave for the weekend without talking to her.”
Of course that was her name.
“Just stay calm and try not to piss anyone off for once. This is one time you really need to keep your head down and follow the rules,” she reminded me. Because telling someone to calm down always worked.
“But that’s not why I called,” she continued, “We won’t be able to make it out there tonight, grandma isn’t doing well. The cardiologist today told her she’s in the beginning of heart failure…and she didn’t even care. She won’t do one thing that Doctor says, she’s killing herself!” her irritation was evident. “she’s doing this to herself.”
“Holy shit.. But I get it. She doesn’t want to try to fight anymore. but I’m sure she’ll go on for a long while more anyways. We have a way of just not dying remember?”
I wasn’t trying to be facetious. I didn’t fault her for ignoring doctors instructions because I really did think I understood- at least projectedly- what was going on. She was tired. She was lonely, in pain, and life just kept endlessly adding bricks to seal her into the pain of an inalleviable weariness and isolation she couldn’t seem to get away from. She hardly got out of bed. She took practically every medication I’d ever heard of, together- even if it was harming more than anything, and she lived in environment that too was slowly draining her. Maybe I presumed too much, but I saw it because I felt it, because I lived it.
My own war for over the past decade with “major depression, anxiety disorder,” other unmentioned things, and numerous health problems had absolutely no history anywhere in any of our four family lineages- except her. I’ve never much believed genetics had anything to do with any of my shit, but I’d sure been asked it a thousand times enough. Even my later diagnoses of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other similar cluster cop-outs, she too suffered through. Though the symptoms happened to me in a very real, yet unexplainable way everyday- there were no diagnoses because I see them as only symptoms of something deeper. Either that or I’m always living in denial or stubborn refusal to accept things that I don’t want in life. She was very much the opposite In her beliefs.
A rift had long been driven between the world and I, so Grandma and I hadn’t had a relationship since I was a child- but I still felt the silent understanding between us of suffering the weight of it all. I respected her even if she were to choose rest over vain striving.
Suddenly there was crying on the other end of the phone.
“Are you OK? I mean, this isn’t a surprise is it?” I was genuinely confused; Even I knew you could die of a broken heart, or one that’s given up. At some point the pain too far outweighs any increasingly scarce pleasures.
“That’s not why I called either.”