In the movies, those big sobs are real. The heaving, weeping, gasping. I took her university card down off the tack board, and her volunteering id card, hung on the lanyard on the tack board. I put one to each eye and wept, “Silly. She was just being silly, Gemma was being silly, silly.”
Her brother, just turned 26, I could hear water running, was in the shower. I must spend time with him. The anorexia took so much of life, I never knew him, now is time.
He doesn’t seem to be consumed, not like I am. Mine is entirely regret. So many chances to discover the lie and get her into hospital, so many opportunities over 17 months, April, 2018 to October, 2019. But the anorexia spoke for her, “Mum, take me home, why are we here?” Parked across from the back of the hospital on the North Shore. Pretty street, I got out of the car to look at the sign, HOpe Centre. “Gemma, get out and look. Get out to see this sign, I can take your picture …” I think I had picked her up from home, with the notion that she had just been released from St. Paul’s Hospital (or maybe was on a pass, if it was the day she said to pick her up from the hospital, and I did, I waited for her in the parking lot), and she was due to go back in (or I dropped her back at the spot I picked her up, watched her go back inside the hospital–after “her pass”).
God was knocking on my brain, “Take action.” How did I miss doing something? It has happened to me before, totally unrelated instances, where I lived to regret not taking action and I felt God was knocking (hint hinting) but I didn’t understand what I was experiencing was brain telling me to act.
The young woman that approached us in Squamish, she was an angel with a message, “I have seen this before.” I needed to ask her, “So what should we do?” Not dismiss her with thanks, the notion that Gem was already in treatment (she wasn’t) and that all it took now was patience (I asked no one to help me understand. I asked nothing).
My last face-to-face conversation with Gemma (driving in the car, Cambie to Southlands and back) was, “I don’t understand,” while I thought she wanted me to agree with the anorexia. “Tell me that you understand, Mum, tell me that you support me, validate my feelings.” Something like that. She often was annoyed with me, irritable, she was at me to validate instead of pointing out other viewpoints–I thought of my knee-jerk response of pointing out other positions as socializing, “See, there are other ways to look at this.” Other people are not intentionally evil, things like that.
She explained her position and my reflex was to say, perhaps it is not as bad as all that? But that made her annoyed (and her dad said too). “Why do you take the other’s side? Can’t you just ever agree, and see it from my point-of-view?” I guess what one says is, “I hear you, yes that is too bad.” But I think I would say that more readily than Sam, her dad, who would say, “Yeah, what a f**ing idiot.”
Just agree with me Mum, validate my feelings, tell me you understand.
Sobs of regret–this all needed talking about, so that I could understand the health emergency that it was. She could NOT wrest control from the anorexia by herself–she needed an advocate to take her by the wrist and walk her into Emergency. I thought she was going to change her mind–she couldn’t change her mind. It was controlled by the anorexia. I sob, weep, gasp, for not fighting to defend Gemma from the illness. God forgive me.