Part 5 of 5
Elizabeth and Melanie, it seemed, had reached an impasse. Each had said what needed to be said, and they certainly weren't agreeing to disagree.
"What do you think?" Silas asked Joe, the therapist. "What if she was your sister?"
Joe seemed to think for a few seconds before answering. "I wouldn't like it," he finally said, and I could see a sort of raw honesty in his face that not everyone can project. "I mean, we do ECT every weekday, so it's pretty routine around here. But it's not a treatment option that should be considered lightly."
"Would you stop your sister?" Elizabeth asked. "Can we, as her family, stop her from doing this?"
Joe flashed us an exaggerated frown, almost a wince, and then he shrugged his shoulders. "None of you are living inside Melanie's skin, so you can't know the weight of her depression. You don't have to live with it, Melanie does. And if she trusts her doctor, and this is what he's recommending, well…" he spread his hands wide, palms up, and raised his eyebrows.
"See?" Melanie said. "He knows where I'm coming from. I told Jessie yesterday, I can't wrap my head around going through a dozen med adjustments right now. I'm grieving mom, I'm practically losing Caleb, and I feel like I've already lost myself.
"Dr. B says that sometimes ECT works really fast. I think it's worth a try. He's always known how to help me." She looked at Joe. "Hey, you know that video, the one about ECT? Can they watch it?"
So we watched an educational video about ECT that didn't make any of us feel any better about it whatsoever. Liz didn't melt, Josie didn't say a word.
I wasn't sure what Melanie expected, if she thought it would help or what. And then she said, "I just want you guys to know what I know. I'm scared, too."
Ultimately, what we figured out, with Joe's help really, was that Mel was going to do what she would do, and the rest of us had very little control over it.
Liz asked me to go to her car and get a pair of slippers and a robe she'd brought for Melanie. I could see she was still pissed as hell that this "treatment" could go on without her approval, but she didn't want to fight about it with Melanie to the point where their relationship was damaged.
Silas said goodbye to Mel and walked out with me, collecting Jeremy along the way, and holding his hand all the way to our cars.
He caught me looking at their joined hands in the elevator, and mouthed "perv," only to receive a soft-knuckled punch from Jeremy.
At their car, I pressed my arms around Silas' neck in a hug, and he let go of Jeremy to hug me back, briefly. Then he pulled away, firmly, and said, "All right, Sissie, no need to get clingy and emotional."
I laughed. "You're getting different, Si, softer. I like it."
His head jerked back and slightly to the side, like he was offended.
"Gayer, you mean? Light in the loafers?" His tone stung like a needle-tipped dart.
"No, that's not what I meant at all. Just… kinder. More rational. It's a good change. Mom would be proud."
Jeremy rolled his eyes at us. "Ugh, such a sappy family," he said, but he was grinning as he opened his car door. "Can we go home now?" he asked Si, just before pulling the door closed.
"Cohabitating, are we? I thought you didn't have room."
"I'm pretty sure I said there was no room on the couch. I never mentioned my bed." He gave me a wide-eyed innocent look. "Mostly he stays with Josie. He only stays with me a couple nights a week."
I bit back a giggle. "Almost sounds like shared custody."
"Ha-ha, not funny, Jessamine."
I thought it was funny. He was still being offended that I said he was soft – maybe I chose the wrong word, what I meant was more that he seemed settled, relaxed, as if his sharp edges had been worn smooth.
Happiness can to that for a person, I guess. I got the bag of stuff for Melanie out of Liz's car and headed back into the hospital. When I walked in the door, there was Alex.
Before I could even be startled, she had her arms around me. "It's so good to see you, Jessie! How's Sam?"
A good feeling rushed into me like liquid sunshine, making this whole difficult day better.
"He's good. We're good," I said and hugged her back. She rocked me back and forth, hard, until I lost my balance and started giggling.
"It's great to see you, I've missed you!" I said. then wondered immediately where that came from. Had I missed her? And if I had, why, exactly?
"I'm visiting Mel," I blurted without thinking, and immediately regretted those words. Mel might not want people to know she was in trouble.
"Oh, no, is she in psych? I haven't seen her at any meetings, so I was wondering. Ah, man, I'm sorry." And, indeed, she looked quite crestfallen.
I shrugged and tried to do some damage control. "Yeah, well, med changes, I guess."
"That's too bad," Alex said. "I’d chat with you more, but my meeting starts in about five minutes. Hey, give me your phone number. I'll call you later."
She programmed my number into her phone, gave me another tight hug, and left me for her AA meeting.
Back on the psych floor nothing much had changed. Josie's cheeks were slightly red and her eyes huge in her face, and I could tell she was working hard to keep her emotions under control.
Liz's lips were still a tight line across her face, set in angry disapproval, and Melanie's silences were punctuated by the long, drawn-out sighs of the misunderstood.
I handed her the robe and slippers, and sat down on her bed.
The silence was deadly.
Again, I was transported back to my teenage years, feeling now the same heavy stone settling into the pit of my stomach when my sisters had fought about something neither could win, and had stopped speaking to one another.
I figured I'd give them three minutes, and then I was out of there.
I waited. The silence stretched until the room felt as tense as a balloon about to pop.
Two minutes was all I could stand. I wanted to say something really profound, something that would fix this whole mess.