Friday, June 24, 2011

Paper Flowers

Cathy walked toward me breathing with difficulty.

“Could you help me get my suitcase? I just can’t manage everything what with my asthma.”

“Sure. Where is your luggage?”

She pointed to the building ahead in the near distance.

We walked haltingly towards the place where she had spent a mini-vacation at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. I slowed my footsteps to accommodate her shifting gait.

For nearly twenty years, Isabella Freedman has provided affordable country vacations to urban populations for adults with mental illness. The collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness provides a four-day, three-night program for clients from New York City and Connecticut.

When we arrived at her room, a pink leather purse rested on the floor.

“That is my medicine bag,” she explained.

I picked it up. Prescriptions carry a weighty load.

When we arrived at the main building, I placed her life-preserving satchel next to her black-wheeled suitcase.

“Thank you,” she said. “Wait here: I want to give you something that I made.”

She returned with a celery green paper flower as big as four cabbage heads.

“Do you like it? It’s yours.”

“I have never seen anything like this. I will place it on my bed as my replacement Teddy Bear.”

We hugged. I placed her possessions on the bus to Long Island. She left my sight.

Every night, I take the bouquet from my bed and place it atop the dresser.

Cathy is back home, but the fragrance of her paper flowers continues to intoxicate my being.

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