Ever since that day, life had seemed like a dream. Nothing was actually happening to her. She floated through the hallway at school, looking away from people. Throwing herself into her art, that’s all she had left. That’s what it felt like anyway.
“Honey, you should go. Please, for at least a month. It’s once a week. It will be good for you.” Helene said in the car, already on the way to a support group.
A small grunt of agreement came from Pam, in the past month her clothes had become baggy, but she didn’t care, she didn’t seem to care about anything.
The car stopped in front of the small building that held many therapist’s offices. Pam opened the door and got out slowly, grabbing her tote bag that held her travel art supplies, and a book.
“I’ll see you in an hour, sweetie.” Helene called out the window before she drove off.
She climbed the stairs and followed the signs for the “Teenagers Who Have Lost a Parent Support Group”, which was located in a small room, at the end of a hallway. In the center of the room there was a circle of 7 chairs, near the back wall there was a table with some snacks and hot water for tea. Pam felt like she was just a fly on the wall, invisible. She took one chip and a glass of water from the snack table and sat down. She carefully at the chip, then pulled out her watercolor pencils, and began to draw a stormy sea, with a tiny little lighthouse, far in the distance.
“Alright, everyone, let’s get started. Since we have a new person here for the first time, we will go around and introduce yourselves. I’m Kara. I am here to facilitate the conversations and help you through the harder parts.” She finished, each person spoke to a certain degree, most of them feeling comfortable enough to share at least some information about how they lost their parent, Nicky who lost her mom to cancer, Jake whose dad died in a car crash, and Kat whose mom died of cancer, Pam’s turn came, she spoke in a quiet voice, “Umm, hi, I’m Pam.” A tear escaped from her eye, and rolled down her cheek, at the thought of what she should probably say next, “I, umm, lost my father… last month.” She took a deep breath, “It was a heart attack, so, very sudden…” She had to stop, the tears were just, falling now, and couldn’t stop them. A tall gangly boy handed her a box of tissues. She sat back down and wiped her eyes, clutching the tissue for dear life.
The girl that was sitting next to her pat her back as she stood up. “I’m Erin, I lost both my parents when the plane they were in crashed. About a year ago now.”
The tall gangly boy stood up, shuffled his feet, “I’m Jim, I lost my dad to dementia a few months ago.”
He was the last one in the circle, so Kara got back into her routine.
“So, tell the circle one positive thing about this past week. Let’s start with Pam.”
She was struggling to come up with something.
“It does not have to be anything big.” Kara said encouragingly.
“Okay. I guess, umm, I ate a full meal for the first time at dinner yesterday.”
There was some light applause from the group.
“That’s a big step. We are proud of you.”
The 5 other heads nod in agreement.
“I got through the anniversary.” Erin said, quietly.
“The first one is hard.” Kat spoke up
“I only cried once, it was for like 2 hours, but just once.” Erin said in a lighter tone.
The rest of the session was mostly the others talking about different tools, Pam lost herself in her art.
“Okay, I’ll see you all next week.”Kara said.
Everyone stood up and started talking to each other, leaving Pam alone, until Jim came to talk to her.
“Hey. Looks like you could use a friend.”
“I mean, I guess.”
“Oh, thanks. It’s the only thing that keeps me grounded.”
“For me it’s biking. I could just bike for hours.”
Pam’s phone dinged,
I got busy with some stuff. Roy will pick you up.
Hey sweetcakes, I’ll be there in 5
If she was honest, Roy had been a rock, even though he did not understand any of what she was going through, he was still here.
“Umm, my boyfriend will be here soon, I should head down.”
“So will my mom. I’ll walk with you.”
By the time she and jim reached the street, Roy’s old beat up car was sitting in the waiting zone. He was leaning against the passenger side.
“Hi.” Roy said, as he put his arm around Pam
“Hey, thanks for coming to pick me up.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“This is Jim.”
Roy and Jim nodded to each other.
They got in the car.
“See you next week.” Pam said as the engine turned over.
“Yep. See ya.” Jim waved as the car rolled away.
“I got placed into a new foster home. The parents are super nice. They have a young daughter who is adorable, I pick her up from school a few times a week. I feel at home there.” Erin said
“That’s awesome!” Kara replied, Pam and Jim who were sitting on either side of her gave her a high five while the others gave a thumbs up.
So, uhhh, this week has been hard. I have never really said anything about this before but, I didn’t really lose my dad a few months ago, I lost him 5 years ago. He didn’t die, but he was gone. I went to see him once and I couldn’t do it again. He had already almost forgotten me, and I don’t want to remember him like that. He did die a few months ago, but in my mind he has been gone for years. And I remember him as he was not how he became without his control. But this week I forgot that reason and went down the spiral of why the hell I wouldn’t want to see him. He is- was my dad. I didn’t go to school for two days and I just sat in bed and did nothing. But I also felt weird for staying home when nothing was physically wrong with me.” Jim spoke, quieter than usual and with immense emotion.
“Thank you for sharing that, Jim. Mental health days are completely valid and important. Taking care of yourself comes first.” Kara responded. Glancing at her watch, “Sorry guys, but the session is over. See you next week.”
Everyone stood up. Pam immediately went to Jim and gave him a hug.
“Saying all that, felt so good.”
“Hey, stop with the passive aggressive comments.”
“Well you have been coming a month and have barely said anything.”
“Not talking doesn’t mean I am not benefitting from it. I feel much better. And now that it has been a month, I have done the time allotted by my mother, so I won’t be coming back.”
“Will i still get to see you?”
“Yeah, we can make it weekly.”
“Ok. Sounds good. Let’s get going.”
Ever since they had realized that they lived in the same general direction, Jim drove Pam home almost every week.
“Do you want to come over and watch a movie?” Jim said during the car ride.
“Sure, I had no other plans anyway. Let me just text my mom to let her know.”
“You are not fine, Pam.”
“So now I am lying to you.”
“I think you are lying to yourself.”
“I know how I am feeling. And considering the circumstances, I am doing pretty good.”
“I think you should go back to group.”
“You can’t tell me what to do Roy. I am not going back. It sucked. It kinda made me feel better, but it didn’t help.”
“You went for a month. You need to give it more time.”
“I told you I am fine. Now go home.”
“I can’t stand this. You don’t see how obvious it is. It is the middle of summer and you are wearing long sleeves. And speaking of clothes, all of them are huge on you. Not to mention that you are so fragile and tiny, I am afraid to hug you.”
“Get. Out. You have no idea what’s happening to me.”
“I Know. But I want to be there for you. I want to help you. I want to help you feel better. And I don’t believe that there is nothing that I can do.”
“This isn’t a cold, Roy. I am not going to just be better because it’s been six months. So if you can’t accept that, then we are done. It’s over. Get. Out.”
“So, that’s it, after 3 years, we’re just over. I have been here for you. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”
“Really? Nothing? Then DO NOTHING. LET ME HEAL.”
“YOU EXPECT ME TO JUST HOLD AND COMFORT YOU. I HAVE DONE THAT FOR SIX MONTHS. I HAVE DONE EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO HELP YOU. AND YOU STILL DON’T--”
“WHAT? SMILE? LAUGH? WANT TO HAVE FUN? IT’S CALLED GRIEVING, LOOK IT UP”
“You are right. I can’t do this anymore. I am out. Bye Pam.”
My mom and sister are going out. The door will be open as usual. Just find me and we will watch a movie like usual.
Okay. I’ll be there about 20 minutes early.
Sure enough the door was open like usual, but there was no Helene or Penny to greet him.
“Pam?” he called. No answer, he moved closer to her room. He heard the shower. He knocked on the door, and called in,”I am here. What movie are we going to watch?” Still no answer.
Now pounding on the door, he called out her name, desperate to make the sure that where is thoughts were going wasn’t true. Finally he slammed against the door, it bursting open. To reveal his nightmare coming true.
Her tiny body in the tub. The clothes sticking to her, revealing how truly tiny she was. Blood staining the white t-shirt, and bathtub.
Jim, trembling turned off the shower. Rushed to get two towels to compress her wrists. He lifted her from the tub. Tears stained his cheeks as he took his phone out of his pocket and dialed 911, and hit speakerphone placing it on the counter.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“My friend. She slit her wrists.”
“Where are you located”
He rattled off her address.
“Okay. There is an ambulance on the way. I will stay on the line while you wait. Can you compress her wrists.”
“I am doing that.”
“Good. How old are you?”
“We are 17.”
“Are there any parents present or aware?”
He heard the sirens getting closer
“Is there a way to let them know the door is open?”
“Just call out, they’ll hear you.”
The sirens were very loud now
“As soon as they are there, hang up and call her parents.”
There was a loud knock on the door
“COME IN. IT’S OPEN”
The paramedics came in the door and relieved Jim, and put bandages on her wrists.
He stood there for a minute, picked up the phone- then realized he did not have Helene’s number. He went to Pam’s room and found her phone.
“Hey, Pam honey. Everything ok--”
“Helene?” Jim gasped out through tears
He nodded, then realized, “Uhuh.”
“What happened? Is everything okay?”
“She tried t-to kill herself” he barely got it out before breaking down completely
“Don’t make me say it again. Just meet us at the hospital.”
They hung up.
“Hey, you want to ride with her.” one of the paramedics asked
He went with the paramedic, thanking god that he was early.
With the sounds of the busy new york streets in the back round. They sat cuddling, on the couch, Pam’s head resting on Jim’s shoulder, watching their all time favorite rom-com “About Time” for the millionth time.
“Pam, I love you.”
She looked up at him
“I have loved you since the first time I saw that painting.” He said pointing to a little framed picture of a stormy sea, with a tiny little lighthouse, far in the distance.
“I love you too.” She replied, placing a kiss on his cheek.