Sunday, April 30, 2017

Crisis Team (Photo Story)

You've already met Brandy's best friend, Angelica Cruz. As a reminder, Brandy works as a psychotherapist at the VA hospital. She and Angelica have been friends since college, where they shared some of the same classes. Angelica has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling. She works as a middle school guidance counselor. 

Nathan and Hilary Clarke were introduced a while back. You can see their family photo on the Characters page. Here’s a bit of background. Aided by IVF, Hilary gave birth to twins twice. The couple had twin sons, Justin and Jason and twin daughters, Mary Kate and Margaret. About a year ago, tragedy struck the Clarke family when Margaret died in a house fire. Every family member dealt with their grief differently. While Nathan poured himself into work, Hilary became emotionally withdrawn. The boys were inspired to write songs about the heart break of losing a loved one, and Mary Kate who is now a twinless twin, fell into grief-related depression.

The receptionist informs Angelica that the Clarkes are waiting in her office.

Mr. and Mrs. Clarke? (Angelica)

That’s right. I’m Hilary, and this is my husband, Nathan. (Hilary)
Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Please come have a seat at my desk. (Angelica)

Would you mind telling us what this is about? (Nathan)
Sure. I’m Angelica Cruz, a guidance counselor here and a member of the school's  crisis team. (Angelica)
Crisis team?! (Hilary)

You can relax, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke. Mary Kate is okay for now, but there was an incident earlier today.  I’ve asked you here to talk about some things she wrote in her writing journal. Her language arts teacher read some entries today in which she wrote about wanting to die and even contemplated the best way to end her own life. We take these things very seriously. Our crisis response protocol is not to send students home on the bus if we think they may be in danger. (Angelica)
Oh my… (Hilary, beginning to cry)

Obviously, I’m aware of your loss, since Margaret was a student here. (Angelica)
Nathan winces at the mention of Margaret’s name.
Were you conscious of the fact that Mary Kate was struggling so much with her sister’s death? (Angelica)
Nathan swallows hard, but doesn’t answer.
So what now? (Nathan)

She can go home with you. We do request that you sign some paperwork acknowledging that we’ve made you aware of the situation. I suggest keeping a very close watch over her and also scheduling an appointment with a child psychiatrist as soon as possible. If you don’t have a family mental health practitioner, then we can give you a list of local doctors. (Angelica)


May I be excused from the table? (Mary Kate)
You haven't even touched your dinner, sweetheart. I thought roast beef was your favorite. (Nathan)
I'm not hungry. (Mary Kate)
Go ahead then. (Nathan)

Moments later, Hilary walks into the dining room.

Where's Mary Kate? I thought I saw her come down for dinner. (Hilary)
She did. She wasn't hungry. (Nathan)
This makes the third night this week she hasn't eaten her dinner. (Hilary sighs)
I got a text from the boys. Their rehearsal is over at 6:30. Can you pick them up? (Hilary)
Sure. (Nathan)

And I just got off the phone with the therapist’s office. They can see us next Thursday afternoon at 1:00. (Hilary)
Us? What do you mean us? (Nathan)

They’ve asked us both to be there with Mary Kate since this is her first appointment. (Hilary)
So you expect me to miss an entire afternoon of work for this? (Nathan)

I asked for the first available appointment, and that’s what they gave me. (Hilary)
Then you’ll have to reschedule. I’ve got to work. (Nathan)

Nate, this can’t wait. (Hilary)
Well, it’s going to have to. I can’t afford to get behind at work. (Nathan)

You’re unbelievable. Are you even listening to yourself? Work will be there, but the only daughter you have left might not be if we don't do something to help her. Mary Kate can’t wait any longer. She needs help now. She needed help a year ago, but you wouldn’t listen to me… (Hilary)
Enough! (Nathan)

Nathan, please... please do this one thing for our daughter.  (Hilary)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Awesome story/writing!! I hope that Nathan listens to his daughter's silent cry for help and his wife's too. Suicide seems to be on the rise right now, especially amongst teenagers. The signs are usually there, but are sometimes ignored or thought of as something else...

    I love your attention to detail!

    1. Thanks, Georgia Girl. And you're right about signs being there. I've been teaching elementary school for quite some time and have seen signs in children nine and ten years old. Our counselor is a busy woman.

  2. I agree with Georgia Girl, great writing! I do hope her parents get her help quickly. Nathan is in denial and it is obvious that they all could use some help in coping. Losing a child is such a terrible thing to have to go through!

    1. Thanks, Phyllis. Nathan and Hilary would definitely benefit from counseling. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child. It's something I pray that I never experience.

  3. I agree with Georgia Girl and Phyllis. The entire family sounds like they need counseling at this point.

    1. Yes, family counseling sounds like a great idea given the circumstances. Maybe the therapist will recommend it after they meet with him/her.

  4. I felt myself getting upset the moment Nathan said he had to work. So selfish of him. He really needs to re-prioritize. I hope he sees that before it's too late.

    1. I feel ya, Jaye. It makes me mad to think that a parent would put work before the well-being of their own child. However, in this case I think work has become Nathan's distraction from his own grief. When my husband and I had a rough patch in our marriage several years ago, I remember​ spending a lot of time at work because it kept my mind off a marriage on the verge of breaking apart. While at work, I was busy and even happy, but as soon as I got in the car to go home, reality would set in and I felt hopeless.

  5. Wow what a story. Nathan better wake up!

    1. Yes, and he better do it soon. It's time for him to snap out of whatever fog he's in and realize he's at risk of losing another daughter.

  6. Well, Nathan's a bit of an a-hole, but hopefully that's just his grief on display.

    1. I can assure you that he was not like this before losing Margaret. He was a devoted and loving husband and father.