The soft lamp, the sunken in couch. It’s where I sit today, telling my story. But even as Dr. Wilson sits with my mother, who had made the drive down to the city to be with me in that corner office, I still can’t accept what’s going on.
Dr. Wilson stared at her notepad, her long, curly brown hair falling below her shoulders, she began writing again. My mom wiped a tear from her eye and put her hand on my shoulder.
“It’s going to be OK, sweetie,” she said.
Even into my late 20s, I was still my mom’s sweetie. Even though I was a total mess of emotions, her words brought me some slight comfort.
“OK, Maddie,” Dr. Wilson finally looked up from her notepad and smiled. “Why don’t you read us the rest of what you wrote.”
I took a sip of the water on the table
“I think it’s important we go over what happened when you went to the house,”
I sighed and I continued.
I stumbled out of the exit to the subway, what little bit of daylight I had left lighting the way. I glanced confusedly around at the five-way intersection trying to decide which was the correct way to go.
I had jotted down directions to Jessica’s parent’s house on a piece of paper. I pulled it from my pocket and followed the street West until I finally found it.
Just as it was on Google street view, just as I had remembered it. I stood there in front of Jessica’s parent’s house. A large bay window stretched across the front of the house and even though it was covered with white curtains I could still see light peeking around them.
Someone was home.
I took a deep breath and made my way up the staircase. This was it, I thought. This would prove I was not crazy. This would give me the answers I was looking for.
A moment later, a tall, middle-aged white woman opened the door. She had medium-length, dirty blonde hair.
“Hi, can I help you?” She said.
“Hi, I’m sorry to bug you, but I’m looking for Jessica,”
“Sorry there’s no one here by that name,” she said.
Impossible. I was sure this was her house.
“Oh,” I said, disappointed. “Do you know a Jessica in the neighborhood?” I asked.
“No, we just moved in a few months ago.”
Just then, a man appeared in the doorway. He wore a baseball cap and basketball shorts.
“Everything OK here, honey?” He asked the woman.
“Brad, do you remember if there was a Jessica in this house before we moved?”
“I don’t remember a Jessica, I remember their name..what was it, Lee?”
I jumped at the answer.
“Yeah, Asian couple. Lee, I think it was.”
My face lit up.
“I’m trying to reach them do you have any contact information?”
This is when I’m told things went south.
I had what doctors commonly refer to as a “mental breakdown.”
I was found wandering the street, tears in my eyes, screaming incoherently. I was admitted to the hospital for a few days for monitoring before they took me down to Dr. Wilson’s office in the psychiatry ward where she had me write down everything that had taken place. Not long after, my mom, who had spoken to Dr. Wilson at length before I was transferred to her, finally explained to me what happened.
I was a senior in high school when Jessica was killed in a car accident. She was my best friend, and we were in the spring semester, ready to graduate. We had both applied to the same college and were hoping to get in together as we were already inseparable.
She had done nothing wrong. In fact, she couldn’t have done anything more right. She was coming back from an art expo in a neighboring town when a drunk driver crossed the centerline, hitting her small car head-on, killing her instantly.
My mom recalls that I was so devastated I couldn’t eat or go to school for nearly 2 weeks. During that time, I actually received my college acceptance letter and we were told by Jessica’s mom that hers had come in the mail too. A future that would never happen.
I had sought out therapy that summer, but nothing seemed to help except for the fantasy I created. Or so they said.
I had created a scenario in my head in which Jessica was my companion throughout college and beyond. I searched back through all my photos throughout college and realized my best friend wasn’t in a single one. My friends truly weren’t messing with me that night at the restaurant. They really didn’t know Jessica. At this point, she was nothing but a memory in my head. A memory I desperately tried to keep alive.
Dr. Wilson can’t say for certain why all of this just stopped one day. Why did my imagination suddenly keep Jessica from messaging me on GChat? Something, whether work stress or otherwise, must have snapped me back into a reality that I wasn’t sure I was ready for.
“I’m prescribing these for anxiety,” Dr. Wilson said as she tore a piece of paper from her little pad. “Take one a day before bed. These should help keep the delusions at bay.”
“You know, Maddie,” she continued. “Everyone deals with grief differently. I think you should continue journaling in addition to taking these pills.”
It wasn’t long after this that we thanked Dr. Wilson, and I was officially discharged from the hospital.
That night, my mom picked up my pills for me. I stood in front of the mirror with the bottle in my hand.
I dumped all the pills in the toilet and hit flush.
The pills we supposed to keep the delusions at bay Dr. Wilson had said. But I didn’t want to keep them at bay.
I didn’t want to lose Jessica for the second time.