The other day, I wrote about Christie and our dialogue with one another, and she told me it was time to stop hiding, and I wanted to talk to her about that, if she wished to talk to me, and understand what she meant. She said she did want to talk to me. She looked gravely ill to me the other day, and I wondered if she would be able to return to the Mansion, which she very much wishes to do.
She described the Mansion as a very special place where everyone cared for each other and watched out for each other. She intends to return, if her medical condition permits. She is having trouble walking, she has dealt with cancer and a number of strokes and now has had a bout with pneumonia and fluid in her legs and body, caused by various medications.
Today, Red and I went to see her again in the hospital and I was happy to see she looked so much better, she said she felt much better. Her nurse said the doctors were pleased.
On Wednesday, she expects to move to a rehabilitation center in Glens Falls, N.Y. It is called the Pines and she will try to learn to walk more than a few feet. She would be happy to receive letters there, she expects to be there for two weeks or more. She has to learn to be mobile and walk more easily, or she can't return to the Mansion.
Christie is working hard at that, I thought the improvement in her was distinct, at least to the layperson's eye. She gave me permission to give out the address of the Pines, it is Christie L., 170 Warren Street, Glens Falls, N.Y., 12801. One caution: these movements are unpredictable and subject to change. If her move is delayed or she goes to another place for some reason, her mail will be forwarded.
The Pines is just four blocks from where her 86-year-old mother lives, the two are close and her mother is in good health. She refused a chance to go to a rehab center in the Adirondacks, where a bed has opened up. She wants to stay close to her family.
I am not qualified to judge the odds of her returning to the Mansion, she seems determined to get back there and I have the feeling if she wants to, she will. But that is just a guess, I'm not a doctor or diagnostician. I can tell from Red that her spirit and energy are high, he reacts to both and was making strong and close contact with Christie, as he does with Connie and a number of Mansion residents. His tail was wagging and wagging.
Red was a big hit in the hospital, he was, as usual, surrounded by doting nurses. He loves nurses.
Christie and I had a long and open talk, she walked me through her life, she was a nurse for many years, an RN in the very hospital where she was staying. I asked her what she meant about coming out of hiding and facing the truth, and it was a sad and hard story. She asked me not to repeat it, she wishes to not upset her daughters, and I agreed, of course.
"I've hidden long enough," she said, "I'm not going to live like that any longer."
Maria sent along one of her "Show Your Soul" posters as a gift, and Christie said she would treasure it. Her nurse wanted one. If anyone is showing her soul right now, it is Christie.
Christie has been through a lot, and there the feeling of coming out in her life now, she said she was afraid to face people and talk about some of the issues in her life. That is changing, she said, and she thinks this is very much tied to her health. It is clear that she has some real physical challenges ahead of her, she seems strong emotionally and clear about what she wants. She does not seek or want additional help. If she needs it, she will ask for it.
She said the Manson is her true home now, she did not wish to burden her children any longer, she wants them to be free to live their own lives. It is a story I often hear from Mansion residents who suddenly found they need more care than their families could easily provide.
Christie told me she had a baby doll collection – she liked dolls of babies – but her father destroyed her collection.
The conversation was very real, and it was easy and comfortable for me, and I hope, for her. It was important, she needed to say it out loud, something many women understand. Having Red around opens a lot of doors, and a lot of souls. I am rooting for Christie, and am reminded once again that we cannot solve all of the problems of the world and change reality and the nature of life.
I – we- can't save Christie, only she can do that, and she is off to a strong start. I admire her generous spirit and strong will. I often see that the people who suffer the most complain the least. She does not speak poorly of her life. She has been through enough to sink lesser people.
But I have to know what I can do and what I can't do. Christie herself is very bounded. She wants nothing from me but my attention, she asks for nothing.
Sometimes you have to step back and let life take its own course, there is always the danger of getting over-involved and playing God. It is important to be self-aware. At one point in my hospice work, I was seeing five patients and when they all died within days of one another, I was sent to see a social worker and learned a valuable lesson. Do what you can when you can. And then stop. The danger is burnout, the boundaries are fluid, but also critical.
I think my dialogue with Christie is extraordinary, for her perhaps, for me for sure.
Christie knows there are people rooting for her, and I think she would appreciate messages and letters of encouragement (Christie L. 170 Warren Street, Glens Falls, N.Y., 12801). I have a feeling encouragement gives her strength. I am not a praying man, but I will light a candle for her, perhaps light it every day. And she and I will stay in touch, we are friends now.
It is really up to Christie now and the Gods, I see that her spirit is strong and she seemed quite vital and determined to me. Unless she asks me, I think I'll keep away from the Pines and let Christie handle this next phase of her life. We will continue our conversation online.
I hope the next photo I take of her is at the Mansion.