I met Cynthia today for tea. Of course, this is not her real name, but I am most protective of my former patient and now dear friend. We met at 4 PM at the Ritz Carlton. The torrential rains of the previous two days had finally stopped and our catch up visit was long overdue and most welcome. Cynthia breezed in beautifully dressed with a pre-holiday shopping bag of special gifts for me. I always tell her to just bring herself but she always comes adorned with much too much. A new sweater and scarf, Belgian chocolates, leather gloves and always flowers. I always say “No, you shouldn’t,” but she says, “You saved my life, what’s a little goody bag?”
Cynthia was brought to the emergency room while I was on duty in 1998 — beaten unconscious by her husband, bloodied and battered with her teeth knocked out. A neighbor called the police after finding her apartment door ajar and her husband nowhere to be found. This man heard the screams, crying and pleading for years but every time he tried gently to talk with Cynthia, she changed the subject. She always had an excuse. She fell or a box came tumbling down from closet shelf. Just one story after the next.
But on April 3, 1998, everything changed. Cynthia finally had enough. She had her husband arrested. The hospital gave her resources on how to press charges, survive and take control of her life. We became friends and I felt like a mother to her. A life coach, a therapist, a friend. Seems so long ago but also seems like yesterday. There are so many Cynthias out there. If you know one, reach out. Help them. Invite them for a cup of tea. This is the first step. The rest will come.
There’s always time for tea.