Ruby

Tuesday was my last day in the hospital.

I had already finished my time in the inpatient unit, and now I had done two and a half weeks of being there for six hours a day.

On one of my first days in the Partial Program, I drew every patient’s face on the whiteboard. The staff liked it and told me not to erase it. A few of the other patients asked me to make them look prettier or taller and grabbed markers to improve their likenesses.

When a patient was discharged, we all wrote them notes wishing them well. We put all the notes in one envelope and erased their face from the board.

When a new patient arrived, I immediately drew their caricature. This served as a welcome, and also as an announcement to the rest of the patients that there was a new face among us.

On my last day, I felt accomplished in many ways. I felt better about my mental state for the time being. I also felt good that I had convinced a boy to break up with his abusive girlfriend, and shared coping strategies with a self-injurious girl.

I ceremoniously erased my own face from the whiteboard, and made the others promise to keep the tradition. I took my envelope and left for the last time.

One note began with “I worship the ground you walk on.” Others were less extreme. I appreciated them all.

It’s amazing how much teenagers can understand and impact each other. We all hold a secret and we all know it. ♦