It Gets Worse

May 21, 2020. The middle of the night angst, routine, but now it includes Julie.

Memory of standing by the entrance door to their building Gem greeted Julie, dressed in nice clothes, a nice coat anyways, small and shrunken like a little old bird. I cringed inside, at the sight of her, felt pain crease my brow, thought something like, “God, why would she do this to herself?” The “God” part should be seen as a question to oneself, the why part is because compulsive behaviour is not a choice. They actually knew each other quite well. I didn’t know. I thought theirs was a nodding acquaintance.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Late night studying in the dark I have concluded, I should have collapsed right there, prayed out loud, “God, help me to figure out what to do for these girls?” Taken them by the hand, hugged them, asked them for an answer. Asked them to get in the car, I’d drive them to Lions Gate Hospital, an alternative to St Paul’s where they’d both apparently been felt to be worthless (unknown and unremembered by me), for their apparent decision to restrict.

It wasn’t one person that I didn’t act for. “Forgive me the things I did and things I left undone.” It was the two of them. I cringed and didn’t act. That is a crime. I was in a position “to know better.” But I didn’t. I honestly didn’t know that I should do something. I thought they barely knew each other.

“Let me drive. Get in the back. Hold hands. I will take you to safety. I will drive to urgent care entrance at the hospital. They will know what to do. They will do things that will make you safe.” Perhaps it was February or March when we encountered Julie at the door. I think she died in April and Gemma died in October. It all came together these last two nights in the middle of the night. I play the encounter over and over, I stand aside, the two meet, I say nothing, I worry Julie is too ill to continue. I feel that Gemma is headed that way. I allow myself to think that Julie’s is a decision. I let myself believe that Gemma is going to programs in order to be admitted to intensive treatment–even while she is doing courses. I think I felt we were walking a tight-rope, don’t upset the apple cart, things are in motion … the illness had me in its grip. Bystander syndrome, watching like it was a stage.

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