There are moments in life when choice of words seems especially important. "Oh, honey," I said. "I'm not disappointed in you. I'm just sad because you're having such a hard time. They'll help you here, Emma. They know how to do that. And just so you know? I'm always, always in your corner."
"I know," she whispered. We cuddled through a long stretch of silence. When a staff member announced that visiting hours were over, Emma begged me to take her with me. I promised to come back soon.
I followed up each visit with a phone call to John. I told him in a very general way how things had gone. She seemed a little down. She seemed to have more energy. She offered to show me around the unit. She seemed angry. She showed me some of her art projects. That kind of thing. He listened attentively and thanked me for calling. I began to hope that somehow we might find our way back to each other, John and I, building on this terrible time.
Last week, John and Rosie took Emma home. I haven't heard from her since. I don't know what that means exactly. Maybe her cell phone is off limits for a while. Or maybe I'm no longer therapeutically appropriate.
I vacillate between a deep suspicion that I'm being punished because Emma asked for me and wondering if I'm being totally paranoid. I may never figure that out. The official explanation cooked up for her hospitalization is "acute mononucleosis." Is there such a thing? I don't know. What I do know is that, for now at least, my granddaughter is being held in protective custody and I don't have visitation rights.
I took a chance and e-mailed John yesterday. I said I hoped everything is OK. He wrote back to say that things are complicated but somewhat better. I guess that's good. He reminded me that I'm forbidden to share what I know about Emma's situation with anyone. And so it seems I'm sucked into the secrecy, even as I'm kept at a remove. I'm trying to be patient, but I long for Emma, for Gracie. I worry about my son and even about his wife. I've thought about trying to reach out to Rosie, but that seems futile. There's nothing for me to say or do, no way to be that is acceptable to her.
Emma knows where I am, though—literally, metaphorically. We have a strong bond, even when we're not together. Still, I hope she surfaces soon. I suspect she needs all the love and reassurance she can get. How long should I wait for her to get in touch? There are no rules for this. And then it comes to me. What the hell? I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. I pull out my cell phone. "Em, RUOK? Howz yr day lookin ;-) luv, Gma."