Then Comes Hope

Jaime (far right) with her three sisters: Kiarra, Hailey and Bree (left to right)

“Oh god. Not here, please not here!”

“Push! Honey, you need to push!”

“God, no!”

A long scream, punctuated by silence, then a weak infant’s cry.

Just outside Jaime’s room in the ER, a woman failed to make to a delivery room. Jaime listened to the sound of new life enter the world on the same day she tried to leave it. Her hands tingled, and her entire body was still cold and regaining circulation. She didn’t move. She just starred at the dingy tile ceiling and listen to the excitement outside.

A few hours later Jaime was moved to a different room. The probable mess had been cleaned up outside her room, but Jaime didn’t ask about the new mom or her child. She avoided the faces of her dad and stepmom, fearing the impending question: Jaime, why? They didn’t understand before, and they wouldn’t now. A social worker came into the room and introduced herself. Jaime listened to all the hoops she would have to go through: counseling, group therapy, prescriptions, social visits. So life was going to get harder. How ironic.

Later, Jaime didn’t know how much later, her sisters Bree and Hailey visited her. They exchanged hugs and tears and told each other they loved them. Jaime was finally warmer, and seeing her sisters gave her something to think about. They left, and Jaime went to counseling.

Group counseling proved worthless. Of the fifteen or twenty patients in the group, all were kids closer to twelve than eighteen. Jaime listened to them complain about being grounded or hating their parents, and she felt completely alone. Didn’t anyone understand how numb she felt? How empty and hopeless life was? Sure, Jaime’s parents were awful, especially Bonnie, but she didn’t try to commit suicide over being grounded. Jaime had struggled with depression for years; they made her life miserable, but Jaime just wanted the emptiness and the overwhelming sadness to go away. She sat through the hour session, listening to the kids complain and only talking when asked to contribute. Then she went back to her room to stare at the ceiling.

The days blurred together. Jaime lost track of time and wondered what was happening outside the hospital. Her sisters were only allowed to visit once a day, and once a day Jaime got a blurb of updates of what was happening. She didn’t have her cellphone and wasn’t allowed to contact anyone.

Bonnie didn’t make her days in the hospital any easier. Just as if they were at home and not in a freaking hospital, Bonnie name called and accused Jaime of outrageous accusations.

“You did this just for attention, didn’t you? You selfish brat! Don’t you know what you’re putting your father and me through?” Bonnie pointed at Jaime’s dad, who sat in a corner, his hands folded in his lap. He said nothing.

The social worker, Kathy, came in. “Hi! Glad to see you are all here. I just wanted to go over some questions with you two and with Jaime as we move forward.” She sat in a chair next to Jaime’s bed, where Jaime sat cross-legged. Bonnie leaned against the window, arms folded over her chest. “Okay, Jaime, if you are ready, I want to start a conversation between you and your parents on how this can be prevented from happening again, and how you can grow to live a full life. What are some things that can be changed to improve your mental health? Is there anything you want to communicate to your parents right now?”

Jaime looked down at her hands and picked at the chipped silver nail polish on her nails. “I guess… I didn’t do this for attention. I just was tired of being depressed; and, I don’t expect them to know how I feel, but if they ask, I can try to be honest about how I feel.”

Bonnie scoffed. Kathy looked at Bonnie with raised eyebrows. “Bonnie, what do you think are some ways you keep the lines of communication open between you and Jaime so you all know what’s going on inside Jaime?”

“Communication? Like this bitch is gonna be honest about how she’s doing!”

Jaime looked at her stepmom. “I’m going to try to be more honest. If I need help, I’ll ask for it.”

“That is bullshit! When you were eleven you didn’t ask for help. You didn’t ask for help a week ago, so how can I trust you now to not pull this same fucking stunt again?”

“Mrs. Hottinger, that’s a little strong. Jaime is almost eighteen. I’m sure she has changed in the past seven years. What is some ways you have noticed Jaime’s behavior improve this past week?”

“She’s more pathetic now, since she’s getting all this attention and fuss over her. She still talks back to her authority though. Not too sick to be respectful, huh? Brat, look at me when I talk to you.”

“Mrs. Hottinger, Jaime did not do this for attention. A good habit for you to practice would be thinking better than the worst of Jaime. But let’s end here today. I’ll come by tomorrow with a few more questions.”

Kathy stepped outside the hospital room and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Dr. Robbs?”

Kathy looked up to see Jaime’s sister, Bree. “Bree, hello!”

“How is everything with Jaime?” The young woman looked exhausted and careworn from worrying about her sister.

“She’s making progress, but I don’t want her going home with Bonnie and Jim.”

“Really?” Bree didn’t looked surprised.

“No, not at all. I was hoping to ask if you would consider taking Jaime to live with you. Her current environment is only destructive to her demeanor.”

Bree smiled a little. “I’ve already been slowing putting that idea out to Dad and Bonnie. So far we are discussing her living half of her time with me and half with her parents, but I really intend on getting her to move in with me.”

“Good! Oh, I am so glad to hear it! I will talk to you tomorrow then.”

On February 2, eight days after arriving, Jaime was discharged from the hospital. Bree drove her to Bonnie and Jim’s house to pack her things. When they got to the house, Bonnie was so cold to the girls that they went straight to Jaime’s room. An hour and a half later, Jaime and Bree had quickly thrown into boxes everything Jaime wanted to take with her, and they left without saying goodbye to their stepmother.

On the way to Bree’s house, Jaime’s phone was still blowing up from missed calls, texts, voicemails, and Snapchats from her friends.

Where are you??

Why haven’t you called me back?

Is everything okay?!?

Dude, seriously, it’s like you fell of the Earth.

CALL ME.

Jaime texted a few people back, explaining that her phone got taken away and she was sick. They pulled up to Bree’s condo in Fort Collins and Jaime gladly pocketed her phone. Inside she met her new roommates Emily and Kaitlin, and a random friend of someone’s named Gracyn. The girls welcomed Jaime and helped unload her boxes into her room.

Jaime closed her computer. She was trying to finish online classes at Winsdor High so she could graduate, but she decided to do the homework later. She got up from her bed and maneuvered around her boxes and out the doorframe. In two months she still hadn’t unpacked; she was waiting for Bree to get mad and ask her to leave. But she hadn’t yet. Jaime also didn’t have a door, since the rules post-attempt included no locked doors. Jaime heard voices in the kitchen down stairs and skipped down in her pjs to see if Kaitlin had gone to the store yet.

“Hey Kaitlin, did you get milky milk?” Jaime walked into the kitchen where two strange women stopped talking and looked at her. She laughed nervously. “Oh, you’re not Kaitlin.”

The shorter girl laughed. “Nope! I’m Adrianja, and this is Julie. You must be Jaime!”

“Yup. Nice to meet you.” Jaime shook hands.

“I’m Emily’s younger sister.” Julie said.

“Oh, nice.” Jaime nodded and made small talk until she manage to escape to her room with a box of Cheez-its. Strange people in the house. Great.

Despite the weirdness that came with living at the “Tack Shack” as the girls called it, Jaime realized that Bree wasn’t going to ask her to leave. She finally unpacked everything three months after moving in, and slowly allowed herself to relax around her roommates.

Living away from Bonnie improved their relationship enormously, and Jaime now visits her stepmom and dad and enjoys catching up with them. Bonnie no longer abuses Jaime in their relationship, but respects her for living on her own and supporting herself. In the spring, Jaime will start her first semester at Front Range Community College. Because Jaime cares about people, she wants to study nursing so she can pursue that passion. She is even considering working in delivery with newborns, especially after her non-coincidental experience in the hospital a year ago.

“I’m so glad my attempt failed. Life is so much better now, and I can actually pursue my passions and have fun with life.”

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