Darkness and despair
I arrived home from the hospital. I didn’t know what to do. I rang my parents. I remember crying on the phone to Dad and he was trying to comfort me. I still didn’t fully understand what the paediatrician had meant. I just knew if wasn’t good. For the next few days I stayed in my flat. Some days I didn’t even get dressed or open the curtains. I cried a lot.
These feelings of darkness and despair were not new. I believe I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I had my first suicide attempt when I was 12. Fortunately for me, no one realised just how bad things were. If they had, I probably would have been sent to Porirua and Suzanne would have gone to Kimberley.
Through all this, Suzanne just smiled at me. Eventually I realised that there were two of us in this and she needed me to be strong. She needed a mother that she could count on not a wimp in the corner. I started going opening the curtains and seeing the sunshine again. The world stopped being such a dark place. I spoke to the neighbour when I went to get the mail one day. They were an elderly couple well past retirement. They lived in the next block of flats.
Eventually I told them about what the paediatrician had said and they understood. They invited us over for a cup of tea and I heard their story.
Mr and Mrs Granger had one child. She was born with severe disabilities. The first meeting of IHC in Dunedin happened in their home in the 1940’s. There were no services for parents, nothing at all. The only option was institutionalisation but they refused. They kept their daughter at home and cared for her. They didn’t have any more children.
As an adult she moved to a residential facility in Hawkes Bay. One day she need minor surgery. Mrs Granger was recovering from surgery herself so she wasn’t told. Her husband didn’t want her to worry. Unfortunately the daughter died on the operating table from complications. It was a bitter blow and I could tell that it was one they never fully recovered from.
What I took from this story was, this wasn’t the end of something, it was the beginning of a new story. While it was true, I had to cancel the ballet lessons, there was no telling where this journey would take us.
I had brought Suzanne into the world. She had only me. No matter what, we would take this journey together.
Who knows were it would lead.
© Barbara Hart 2014