Last September twelve, I woke up feeling tired like I always did from going to bed at four a.m. I have called myself a hopeless insomniac for some time now, so it's gotten to the point I don't even try to go to sleep early anymore. But I must digress from my sleeping problem for now. On this Monday I got up and dressed quickly for I was due for my therapy session at nine a.m with Dr. Michael Hy Rein at Bailey Seaton Hospital. I'd been seeing Dr. Rein who I called Mike by this point, for four years, this year becoming the fourth year.
I was tired, but I was ready as I was most Mondays when I went to see Mike. We didn't have a session the previous Monday since it was Labor Day, and the clinic was closed. I didn't see him for the rest of that week because he was on vacation.
"We're closed next Monday," he had told me. "But I'll be off for the rest of that week too."
"You'll be on vacation?" I asked.
"Yes," he confirmed. "I'll be back on the twelfth.
And with those words I was done with my session that day. Now on this Monday I was only half way down the block when my partner Walter Lewis called me from the house. The moment I heard him I knew my session had been cancelled. It happened sometimes. The tired part of me was relieved for now I could catch up on some sleep. Then there was the other part who couldn't help feel a bit disappointed for I was looking forward to my session with Mike. Mike was an easy going man, who handled my sessions with so much patience. The last two sessions we discussed an old traumatic experience I had decided to share with him, and I was somewhat eager to get back to that. But there were other things on my mind too. In the end there was nothing I could do, but turn back to the house.
I was not ready for the phone call I received two hours later. Or in reality the phone call I returned two hours later. Mike's supervisor Myra Marks had left me a message asking me to please call her. I did feeling some anxiety for Mike's supervisor wouldn't be calling me unless it was urgent. Was she calling to tell me that Mike wouldn't be returning? I knew that was possible, and I dreaded it, but whatever it was I knew I had to find out, and fast. Little did I know how right I was only not the way I expected. Mike would not be returning, but not because he chose it that way. According to Myra he had died the night before. I was on my way to Shoprite when she gave me this horrible news. Dead? Mike Ryne? I didn't want to believe that was true. But it was. Myra offered her condolences, sounding devastated herself. We briefly discussed getting me another therapist, but we both agreed that could wait. Right then we were both in shock to learn of Mike's sudden passing.
I didn't ask her what he died of right then. I'd been too stunned to get the news. How was this possible? I was devastated. In no time I broke down in tears. I couldn't believe I was never going to have another session with Mike again. No more Monday mornings, no more sessions.
Like any death my mind cluttered with memories. I thought back to our last session the same one he told me he'd be back on the twelfth. We discussed a few things during that session including my father's deteriorating health from Alzheimer's Disease. We discussed the traumatic experience I shared, and he told me he was sorry it happened. He assured me it was natural to think of traumas even old ones once they came to the surface. We discussed my writings as Mike knew I was a writer. In past sessions I shared some poems with him, but it'd been a long time since I'd done so, and I'd been planning to do so again. I quietly thought of that, and decided I would select a poem or two to share with him again. He'd read my poetry, and we'd discuss its content for as he said my writings helped him understand my state of mind whenever he read them.
I'd been in a terribly dark place when I began to see Mike. I had gone through a terrible ordeal, he didn't judge me for. I'd been in a deep depression with suicidal tendencies, and those first sessions didn't bring much progress. My suicide thoughts worsened to the point I made plans, and small acts so Mike arranged to have me hospitalized for evaluation. I was a little angry at him for it, but he'd been concerned at what he called my dark demeanor, and he told me point blank that he couldn't allow me to continue as I was. He came to see me in the hospital (he was the social worker on the floor, that day) and spoke with me for more than one hour. He felt he had failed me as my therapist, and admitted it would devastate him if I succeeded with any suicide attempt. It surprised me to hear him say that, for I'd seen other therapists in the past, and though they showed some concern none ever told me they failed me or how they'd feel if I died. He came to see me again before my release, and offered me the chance to choose a different therapist, if I didn't want to see him anymore. Perhaps I wanted to try with someone else. Otherwise if I wanted to continue on with him then he was more than willing to continue as my therapist.
There was no way I would start over with someone else. Mike had become more than a therapist to me, he had become my friend too. Unfortunately, we couldn't be friends outside our sessions, but he humanized himself to me, and I opened up to him more when I was released from the hospital. In nearly all our sessions I would go in with so many thoughts, but never knowing where to start so he'd patiently wait for me even when my thoughts became scattered (You're not finishing your thoughts he told me during one session)
Today, only three days since his passing, I returned to Bailey Seaton wanting to pay my respects for him in some way. I'd done nothing but cry since I got the news. My depression has been growing again, and I'm fighting not to sink back to that dark place. That's been hard for who did I turn to now to help me come out of that place? I know it's up to me yes, but its not easy when you feel devastated and alone. I met another doctor who will become my new therapist as of next Friday. I admit I am not sure if I'm ready to start therapy with someone else. I have to start over, and I'm not sure I can. I'm relieved I met the new therapist today. We shared our shock over Mike's death, and I am going to need someone to help me pick up the pieces of his sudden passing. This woman was nice, and being one of Mike's colleagues will help me make the transition easier when I begin to see her next week.
It won't be the same. Given my choice I would prefer to stay home from now on. I'd continue my writing, and treasure all my sessions with Mike, and try to heal my depression from that. But I can't do that. Like some have pointed out to me, Mike wouldn't want me to throw away the four years we worked together out the window. He'd want me to continue working on our progress, and that shouldn't stop because he's no longer here. I must give a new therapist a chance. For my sake as well as Mike's. We worked too hard for me to quit on myself now. I'd try my new therapy, and I continue my writing. In fact I decided to dedicate the poetry book I've been working on to him. We had discussed the book, and the poems I was working on, and he expressed interest in reading them once the book was ready.
I came to learn that his office had already been emptied of his personal belongings by his daughter. I stood by his door, and reflected on our sessions. What Mike gave me I will carry on forever. I will cling to his memory when I am in need or feel alone. Though I am still fighting these feelings of abandonment, I know I will always be able to lean on his words, to get me through for his memory will live on. I am grateful to have known him, for the time I did. I am a better person for it. We will be moving from Bailey in two weeks, and I'm sure he was looking forward to telling me since we'd been waiting for that moving date for months. It's going to be hard making that move knowing he won't be there. But then again he will be. In spirit.