Kendra sat alone in the rose garden. She was only half studying a fire-and-ice rose when Craig walked up and sat down next to her. She barely glanced at him.
“My daughter would have liked pink … hot pink.”
“I see … you know Kendra … I, I want to share something with you.”
Kendra momentarily glanced up.
“My wife and I have lost four babies.”
“I’m sorry … that must feel terrible.”
“No worse I am sure than you feel right now.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Your baby … gone. I’m so sorry. I’m even sorrier to see you hurt so badly. I know how terrible. My wife is beside herself.”
“My baby isn’t gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s here right now … Can’t you see her?”
“Yes, she is right there …” Kendra pointed to an open patch of grass. “She’s playing with a butterfly.”
Craig became concerned. Maybe Kendra should be institutionalized versus be in rehab. Craig sat forward. “Do you think your daughter is alive?”
Kendra glanced at him. “No,” she flatly replied. “My husband killed her.”
“Yes, I know. But you were talking like she’s alive.”
Kendra sat forward and looked at him with a serious stare. “Do you think we are the sums of our bodies?”
“You’re talking about the spirit?”
“Yes, and my daughter is simply on another plane in another place, but she’s still here. Only the enlightened can see her.”
“Does that comfort you?”
Kendra said nothing and walked off into the garden. As Craig watched her go he thought his question foolish. By the look on her face nothing was comforting Kendra. She reminded him so much of his wife – that lost look in their eyes. Craig worried when patients got those kinds of looks. It would make them far more difficult to reach. Whatever their addictions, Craig knew one true thing about it. Using helped take them away from their pain. Some people might suggest they were weak. They couldn’t handle it like others could. But how was using a pain pill or booze to escape any different than the guy who hid behind his work and didn’t come home at night? Or women who quit having sex with their husbands because they had disappointed them somehow. In Craig’s mind it was all layers and ways that people managed. It wasn’t about degrees of strength or weakness. It was coping skills. As a counselor Craig hoped to replace their dependencies with better, less toxic ways to cope.
Stanley walked up behind Craig. His hands were in the pockets of his khakis Dockers. He was wearing his doctor’s coat.
“You think she’s attractive?”
Craig turned around and glared at Stanley. “Are you out of your mind?”
Stanley pulled his hands out and raised them with a shrug. “Just stating the obvious.”
“You looking for wife number, what? Nine or is it 10?”
Stanley chuckled, “Nine … but who’s counting?”
“You ever think about going to someone about that?”
“Your attachment disorder.”
Stanley heartily laughed, “I just came out to tell you that the cafeteria is serving your favorite salmon with the lemon spice.”
Craig loved that dish and did appreciate that Stanley let him know. “Cool. Thanks.”
“One more thing…”
Craig who had started to walk back in stopped and waited.
“Our MIA patient was found wandering around Port Angeles. They’re bringing him tomorrow.”
“They say what happened?”
“Oh,” and Craig continued to walk back to the main complex.
Stanley stood quietly among the fire and ice roses. He studied Kendra for a moment. She was now sitting on a bench in the gazebo – silent and still.