Edna sat at the nursing station after the therapy session and wrote her report. Janet and Ann missed the session. Had they dropped out? She checked the new class list from the front office and found their names, under the words “No longer covered.”
No insurance. She sighed. The women’s addictions often led to marital problems. When the marriage ended, most of them lost insurance coverage for therapy. They were lost souls in a downward spiral.
Edna dropped her head into her hands, thinking of their futile of lives. She knew the pain: the abusive husband, the fear and uncertainty, caught between today’s pain and fear for tomorrow, the gaping chasm ahead if the woman left.
For her, alcohol and drugs were not an option, but for these women, they dulled the pain, a tempting escape that brought more problems.
They needed support. Help was here in this hospital program, an opportunity to look addiction in its ugly face, to see that dulling the pain with alcohol only added more pain. Firm steps away from that easy out would bring them to a better life.
She knew it could happen. She saw it in those who came to therapy and learned to use the tools given them to rescue themselves.
She remembered when she finally decided to walk away, that call to her sister in Michigan. Gathering up her two children, she escaped from the run down apartment filled with painful memories. For two days, they lived in the Pittsburgh bus station waiting for Annie, who drove non stop on her day off to reach her.
Where would I be if someone had not reached out to me? she wondered. There must be a way to reach these women who slip beyond the hospital’s reach.
She raised her head. There is. With a certainty in her heart, she knew God had given her a way to reach them.
Closing the books, she finished the day’s duties and handed the keys to the incoming nurse. She called the supervisor’s office. Could she see him? Yes. His meeting was over and he would be glad to talk with her.
“What is it, Edna?”
He was a kind man who cared about the helpless people they served. She outlined the plan God gave her, a simple way women could continue to get support after their insurance coverage ended.
“Is there a room in the hospital we could use once a week so the women could meet and encourage each other?” she asked.
Thirty years later, she stood in the small auditorium waiting for the evening to begin. A table laden with delicacies waited. Lighting and sound were in order. Greeters stood by the door with programs.
She thought back over the years, recalling faces and stories that spanned the 30 years of the support group, Women Helping Women. Carol, now president of a women’s college in the east. Joan, who nearly lost everything, celebrating her 25th anniversary with husband and children. Alice, a free lance writer for the local newspaper.
There were so many. Would she recognize them all?
The elevator door opened. Women stepped out, well dressed, laughing, joyous. What a contrast to the beaten down stragglers who came to the first session. She breathed a thankful prayer from an overflowing heart and turned to welcome them.
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