ODYSSEY OF THE MIND
The next week, when Catherine returned to Rose's room to help her settle in for the night, she was once again showing no reaction to anything. Whatever progress Rose had made over the last week seemed to have diminished as quickly as it had come.
Catherine focused her energy on arranging Rose's blanket and pillows, and finding a way to soothe her to sleep. For, it seemed, she was always in fight of nightmares--tossing and turning in her sleep, calling out, sometimes crying even.
Right now, Rose was still, but Catherine knew that soon the dreams, or whatever they were, would start again. Over these few days, she had tried everything...talking, literally holding Rose while she slept. Those things hadn't helped at all. There was one thing Catherine hadn't tried. It had always worked with her daughter. The only question was what song Rose might like.
She settled herself gently on the edge of the bed and began to think. What Rose needed now, more than anything was to have wings to fly her away from all her pain, Catherine thought. And so, the song she should sing suddenly seemed obvious.
Catherine sang very softly, suddenly not trusting her own voice. After just a few words, Catherine was startled to see Rose reacting to it. The young woman's mouth moved slightly to some of the words. "Come Josephine...flying...up..."
Slowly Catherine let her own voice fade away, her eyes riveted on Rose's face. As she expected, Rose went on singing by herself, though her words were barely audible. What did this song mean to Rose? Before she realized it, Catherine was asking Rose this question out loud. But of course Rose did not answer. She went on singing for a moment, then her voice faded away. Catherine expected her to close her eyes and go to sleep, but she didn't. Far from it.
"Is anyone alive out there?" Rose was back in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. She could just barely feel Jack's hand clasped to hers.
"Jack...Jack, there's a boat." Why was she being punished like this? It was bad enough she had to live it once. Why over again? She somehow hoped events would turn out differently. That this time she wouldn't have to let go of Jack's hand and watch him sink into the depths of the ocean. But of course things happened the same way. Just as she released his hand, she actually began to shiver. She could not distinguish the difference between what was in her mind and what was real.
Catherine saw Rose begin to shiver, and knew what was happening. At last she had some clue. "Oh, no. Don't shiver Rose, darling. It's just a dream this time. It's just a dream," she whispered softly in Rose's ear. She wrapped blankets around Rose's shivering body, but they didn't seem to help. What could Catherine possibly say to make Rose realize she was safe in a warm bed?
After thinking another moment, Catherine decided what to do. She knew it would look strange if anyone was to see them, but she didn't really care if anyone did. Very carefully, Catherine lay down in the bed beside Rose, and took her into her arms as tightly as she could. She heard Rose whispering something. "I'm so cold..."
"Shh, don't be frightened, little one. It's all right. It's me, Catherine. You're safe here in my house. Nothing can hurt you."
Rose seemed to understand Catherine's words, as she slowly but surely stopped shivering. When her shivering had finally ceased completely, Rose turned to look at Catherine. "You...you laid down right here just because I needed help, didn't you?" Rose wanted to say more, but she had to think a moment about how to express it. All that Rose could think of to say was a simple, "Thank you." There was so much emotion and care put into those words that Catherine almost cried. It was almost as if Rose never had anyone care about her. Perhaps she hadn't?
"It's all right, dear. I'm here to help." Rose smiled slightly and closed her eyes. Catherine thought for a moment that perhaps she should get up and leave Rose to rest alone. But something deep inside of her said no. Two hours later, Catherine would get the answer to why her instinct had told her to stay.
Rose began to thrash almost violently in her dreams. Then even worse, she lay completely still.
"Wake up...wake up." It echoed in Rose's head until she realized that it was Catherine's voice speaking to her. Rose shook her head. She didn't want to wake up. She started to cry, just as she involuntarily awoke.
"Thank goodness," Catherine whispered. "I thought you would never wake up, little one. Now, would you like to tell me what happened in that dream of yours?" Rose just shook her head, then leaned against Catherine and burst into nearly uncontrollable tears.
"It's going to be all right, dear. Whatever it is, you'll get through it."
Rose just shook her head back and forth. She whispered "Jack" over and over. Who was Jack? A friend, a brother...maybe a lover?
"Shh, it's all right. Try to think of happier times, Rose."
Happier times? What happier times? The only happy times she had ever known were with Jack. Before...before the...the sinking.
Rose cried as she laid back into her pillows. Trying to think of anything but the awful chilling memories of the sinking.
Her father. Rose remembered the times before her father had passed away. He was always so good with her. He had always had time for her, really talked to her. And he'd been a wonderful listener, too. He was never ashamed to show his affection, even when her mother had said Rose was "far too old for such things." How she wished he could hold her like he used to, just once more. And then suddenly, there he was, right in front of her.
"Daddy...w-what are you doing here?"
"I'm here to see you well again, Rose, dear," he said in a kind tone.
"Oh, Daddy, I miss you so much." Once again Rose started to cry. She embraced her father tightly and cried on his shoulder.
"It's all right, honey. But it's not your time yet. You have much ahead of you...so much life to live. You'll see. You'll make Jack so proud of you."
"You know about Jack?" she asked innocently.
"Why yes, of course," he continued in his gentlest tone. "He's here with me now, but I knew about him even before that. Because he was with you. You were meant to be together, even though it was for such a short time. You already know that."
"Yes, Daddy, I do. But I miss him so much, and I miss you. I want to be with you, Daddy. I know I promised Jack, but he'll forgive me for breaking it...won't he?"
"You mustn't think that way, darling," he continued. "You are meant to go on without Jack. To live your life to the fullest, just the way that Jack told you. I can see you in the future, my Rose. You will be so happy. You must trust me."
"I do, Daddy. I'll go back soon, but can't I stay here just a little longer? Please?"
"Only for a short while, Rose. Catherine is waiting for you. She's very worried about you, you know."
"Yes. I still wonder how it is she found me. She had never met me before, and yet she didn't hesitate for one moment in taking me in."
Don't you understand, Rose? It wasn't chance. Jack and I sent her to you. You don't have to leave her until you're certain you're ready. Now go on, my little Rose. You can't stay any longer."
"I understand. I love you, Daddy. Please, tell Jack that I love him, too. I always will." With that said, she kissed her father on the cheek, and returned to a conscious state. There were no more tears this time.
"Are you all right, dear?" Catherine saw that Rose had come back. Rose had no expression in her eyes, nor did she speak. She was too tired. She simply closed her eyes, and slept peacefully for the first time in weeks.
Her restful sleep did not last for long, though. Soon her dreams of 'happier times' as Catherine wanted to call them, once again turned into horrible nightmares. She did not want to see such maddening things, so why was her mind giving them to her? It didn't make any sense at all. She could not control her dreams, or even control whether she was asleep or awake anymore.
Rose was in such turmoil. But she had no voice to express it. At best, she could moan in displeasure. The few words she did manage were unintelligible to Catherine, no matter how hard she tried to understand. But then, she was so wrapped up in giving Rose proper basic care, she perhaps did not put forth the effort she should have.
Later that day, Rose began mumbling something that she seemed to demand Catherine listen to. Catherine couldn't understand a word that Rose said. She was talking so fast, and she seemed to be staring at something. But there was nothing there. Then Rose started pointing. "Tell him to go away." Rose said it so fast Catherine could barely make it out. Rose buried her head in Catherine's shoulder. 'She must be seeing apparitions again. I thought those visions had stopped.'
Using the most forceful voice she could, Catherine did as Rose asked. She looked in the general direction Rose had been pointing to and asked "him" to go away. When Rose lifted her head again, she looked relieved, but said nothing else. A moment or two later, her eyes went blank again. Catherine sighed, then realized the time and decided she should go make Rose something to eat. She told Rose that she would be back shortly, even though she was almost certain Rose could not hear her.
Catherine journeyed downstairs to the kitchen and tried to find something that Rose would be able to eat without too much of an effort. Catherine searched a few moments trying to find the right thing. Nothing she had would be very substantial, but it would have to do. Rose had to eat something.
Bearing a bowl of applesauce and a spoon, she returned to Rose's room.
"Rose," Catherine called. Still no reaction from the young woman. "Rose, dear, I've brought you something to eat."
Catherine sat on Rose's bedside and took her hand. Even at Catherine's touch she got no reaction. "Now Rose, I need you to eat something, dear." Still nothing. Catherine just sighed and prepared to feed Rose. When she gave her the first bite, Rose showed the smallest reaction, as if she didn't like it and wanted to spit it out.
"No, Rose, you have to eat something, and I have so little you can eat without trouble. Please just swallow it, and let's get this over with as fast as we can, all right?" Rose seemed to act rather stubborn about it, then at last swallowed it. Perhaps Rose could understand when Catherine spoke. Though she suspected she only listened to what she wanted to.
Catherine fed her nearly the whole bowl of applesauce before Rose decided she had enough. She took the nearly empty bowl back down to the kitchen, while Rose waited patiently for her to return. Rose wished that Catherine's voice was the only thing she heard, but it wasn't. When she was gone, there were others. Voices, and faces. Cal's voice echoed in her mind as soon as Catherine left. She couldn't understand exactly what he said, but the look in his eyes...
Just as Catherine was mounting the stairs to Rose's room, she heard an odd, strangled sound. Instinctively, she knew what it was. When Catherine entered Rose's room, she saw Rose hugging her knees, rocking back and forth on her bed. She was half screaming, half-moaning. It sounded as if she were...sick.
"Rose? Rose, what's wrong, honey?" Rose did not answer. "Do you feel sick?" Rose nodded her head.
"It's probably from all the stress you've been under, dear. I'll just stay here a while and talk to you. Look at me, Rose, just focus your eyes on me and try not to think of all those other things. If it helps, you can hold my hand, all right?"
Rose turned her gaze to Catherine as she had been asked, but she was still moaning and rocking back and forth. Catherine had the feeling this would get worse before it got better.
"Rose, dear, you should lie down, and maybe get some rest. Rocking back and forth like that is going to do you no good." Rose stared at Catherine before realizing that what she said was right. She stopped moving, and she crawled beneath her covers.
"Do you want a glass of water, dear?" Rose shook her head no. "All right, then. I'll just stay here with you."
Rose slowly closed her eyes, and Catherine could practically see the tension leaving her body. She sensed the young lady was not asleep, however, and so she continued speaking to her softly, just trying to get some clue as to what her mind held, what had made her act like this.
Anything that Catherine asked or told her, Rose seemed to show no reaction to. She was either asleep, or just choosing not to listen. Catherine sighed when she saw that Rose was now sleeping. Her breathing was more consistent and the frown on her face was now gone. Replaced not by a smile, but at least a sign of some contentment.
Her seeming contentment did not last, as usual. Tonight there were no tears, which was odd, but Rose moaned as if in terrible pain. She was also eerily still all the while, which had seldom happened. All she did was moan, but the moans grew louder and louder. Catherine did not understand. What was happening? Should she wake her? Maybe it would be best for the dream to run its course...Catherine's decision was made for her when Rose woke up by herself. She did not move; she only opened her eyes and looked around in the dark. She realized that it was only a dream, and then closed her eyes again. Hoping for more pleasant dreams to come.
The rest of Rose's night was peaceful, but in the morning Catherine could see she had managed to withdraw even more. Rose no longer seemed to move at all. Catherine knew she could not allow that to continue.
After some consideration, Catherine decided harshness would be best, at least at first. She took a deep breath and spoke. "Young lady, I can see you are awake, and I expect you to acknowledge me when I come into a room. I don't care how. Any way you can. So, I'm waiting."
Rose winced inwardly. Catherine sounded just like her mother. In fact, Ruth had said almost the same words to her at one time. But Rose did not have the energy or desire to move her body.
Well, Rose thought, the sooner I DO recognize her, the sooner she'll leave me be. So with that thought, Rose turned her gaze towards Catherine. And then, Catherine did the last thing Rose expected; she smiled.
"There, you see? Was that so hard? I am sorry for my harshness, darling. It was for your own good."
Rose wanted to roll her eyes at Catherine, but she knew that would be highly disrespectful. Rose sighed and turned her gaze to the ceiling again. She watched a house fly that flew around the room. It seemed to be so free. Rose wanted to be like that. Have wings and fly away...never look back. But she was here, in her bed, choosing to not even move.
Catherine picked up on Rose's change in demeanor, and frowned deeply. "Rose," she whispered. "You think I was just trying to be cruel, don't you?" The thought had crossed Rose's mind, but she knew that Catherine wouldn't do that to her. It just annoyed Rose that she had done it.
Rose mumbled a very low 'no' without moving her eyes. She still concentrated on the fly.
"Rose, are you hungry, dear?" Rose replied nothing. "Rose, I know you can hear me, and I know you can answer me. So tell me yes or no."
"No," Rose mumbled softly.
"Rose, you've hardly eaten anything these past couple weeks. You have to eat something, dear. Or you're going to get awfully thin."
To Catherine's surprise, Rose said something more. "Yes, I know. But being fed is so embarrassing, and it's not that I don't want to do it myself. Really."
"You can, Rose. Your body is fully able to move and you can feed yourself. You thrash in your dreams, so I know your muscles have not given out on you." Rose sighed. She did not say anything more. If she did move in her sleep like Catherine said, she had no knowledge of it. As far as she could tell, she was only able to lie there.
"You don't believe me, do you? Here, I'll prove it to you that you can move. Your own muscles are going to surprise you." Catherine took Rose's hand, holding it gently. "Now, squeeze my hand, as hard as you can. I know you can do it."
Rose was skeptical, but decided to try. Honestly try. Rose willed her fingers to curve around Catherine's hand. When they did, she was rather surprised. However, the amount that they did curve, surprised Catherine. It was not as much as she had anticipated. Perhaps Rose was worse than she originally thought.
Catherine frowned, but only inwardly. She couldn't let Rose know what she was feeling. As cheerfully as she could, Catherine said, "Try it again, dear. You're doing fine."
"I can't," Rose said with hardly any emotion. She was tired, cranky, and she felt like nothing mattered anymore. She really didn't care if she COULD squeeze Catherine's hand.
"Yes you can, dear. Just try it once more...for me."
Rose sighed. "All right." She squeezed as hard as she possibly could, then let go. This time she saw Catherine frown. "What's wrong? And why do my fingers hurt now? They shouldn't hurt."
Catherine tried to reassure her, knowing her words sounded empty. "It's going to be all right, dear. I'm going to take care of you."
Try as she would, Rose knew that Catherine could not help. This was going to be Rose's battle, and Rose's battle alone. She felt herself slip farther and farther as each day progressed. She didn't know what to do about it, either. She wanted to leave the world behind her, and at the same time she wanted to enjoy life--go on like Jack had told her to.
Catherine could see Rose didn't truly believe her. "Rose, look at me, directly in the eye. Please." Catherine used the gentlest voice she possessed, knowing harshness would not help now. "Now, I mean it when I say that no matter what happens, I'm going to be right here. I want you to tell me you believe me...only if you really do. I need to know you trust me, little Rose."
"I trust you." Where had she spoken those words before? Oh yes, now she remembered. She had said it twice, in fact. The tears were threatening to take over Rose's body, so she decided not to think about it any longer. She was alive, and she had to be thankful for that.
Rose sighed deeply. "I think I will have something to eat, you're right." Her voice was very low and scratchy, but at least she was talking.
"Very well then, dear. I'll be right back with something to eat." Catherine returned as quickly as she could, afraid Rose might change her mind again. But when she brought the food up moments later, Rose ate it gladly, realizing how very hungry she really was. But even with the bit of effort it took, Rose seemed exhausted afterwards. And in some sort of pain.
Catherine noticed this right away, and began to get concerned. "Rose, dear, perhaps you should go back to sleep. You look tired." Rose nodded her head. Her muscles ached from even the smallest task. She figured it would be better to just rest them, and not strain herself.
As Rose drifted off, she began thinking. She knew she was getting worse, even if Catherine did not want to admit it. Rose wanted to stop it, but she didn't know how. She doubted she had the strength. She did know Catherine would not leave her alone, which was going to have to be enough. Even with her eyes closed, and the complete silence, Rose knew Catherine was still in the room.
Rose desperately wanted to tell Catherine what she was thinking about. But she didn't know what to say or how to say it. Before she could even get the chance, she had drifted off to sleep.
Just a short while later, Rose startled awake, and found Catherine still in the room. At last, she knew how to express what she was thinking. When she spoke, it startled the older woman, even though her voice was weaker now than it had been before she'd fallen asleep.
"Catherine, I know I'm not getting better, I'm getting worse. It frightens me, but I can't stop it. No matter what, you really won't...send me away, will you?"
"No, Rose. I promise, but you're going to get better, dear. You'll see." Rose just looked at Catherine and smiled sadly. She knew that she meant well, but even through her sweet voice, Rose could detect the same fear that Rose felt.
Rose closed her eyes again and drew a deep breath. The path before her was long, and she knew it.