Issue 2.21 – Fringing

It had been weeks since Millie was first admitted to the hospital. Hazel rarely saw much of Deanna anymore. Deanna was spending nearly all waking hours at the hospital. Brief, intermittent updates were all that Hazel was able to get as Deanna raced out the door each morning. As much as she wanted to visit her friend, Hazel had been told that with everything going on, it wasn’t the right time to stop in. Hazel understood, but at the same time, she was worried and really missed her friend.

Charlie had been watching Hazel become more and more withdrawn. She was reluctant to join in the daily activities at the Manor. She had stopped tending to the gardens and was no longer attending the classes that she and Millie took together. She just sat by the phone or paced down the halls, waiting for a miracle, or word that she could do something for her friend, despite the reality. Charlie knew he had to do something.

As Charlie left the dining area one morning, he noticed a sign-up sheet for a bus tour to the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Even though Charlie had spent his entire adult life in the Edmonton area, he had never attended the Fringe. Hazel had been a few times when John was still in town. They both had a love of the arts and had made it a mother-son tradition to check out the buskers each year and grab a green onion cake or two. Charlie decided to sign them both up.

“You did what?” Hazel asked skeptically when Charlie told her the news. “You’ve never been the one to like these sorts of things Charlie!” Charlie just shrugged. “Guess there’s a first time for everything.” “Well, in all the years I tried to get you to attend with me, I think it’s funny that you just now spontaneously sign us up for a trip out there.” Hazel gave him a knowing look. “This is because you think I need to leave the house, isn’t it?” Charlie smiled sheepishly. “Perhaps that’s one reason, but I also heard about some of the shows this year and they piqued my interest.” “You’ve always been a bad liar,” Hazel giggled.

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The square was alive with energy as jugglers, hula hoop dancers and other artists performed amazing feats and stunts. Hazel had already made her way to the food area for her traditional green onion cake and was enjoying all the sights. “There was a nice young man who handed me an advertisement for one of the shows this afternoon in the Art Barns…he said it was funny and he was kind of funny, so I’m inclined to believe him.” Hazel took the post card and looked it over. “I’ve actually never been to one of the actual plays here before.” Charlie looked at her wide-eyed. “Then what did you and John do here all those years?” Hazel laughed. “Mostly just watched people swallow fire and walk tightropes…and eat onion cakes.” Charlie laughed as well. “Well, maybe it’s about time to expand your horizons and buy a couple tickets to see what we can today.” Hazel nodded. “That would be nice.”

Charlie and Hazel went to the box office to purchase tickets for two of the shows that afternoon. Hazel chatted excitedly with some of the performers marketing their shows as they waited in line. Charlie was happy to see her in much better spirits. It was the most she had laughed and smiled in weeks.

“You know what I was thinking dear?” Charlie asked with a smile. “What?” Hazel smiled back. “We need to find some ice cream.
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It’s often difficult to find motivation and distractions when one is worried about a situation they have no control over. Withdrawal and disassociation are common behaviours when dealing with stress and worry. It is important to not become too isolated and give up on things that once brought joy and meaningfulness.

What do you think of Charlie’s decision to take Hazel to the festival? What other solutions might you have for Hazel as she waits for word about her friend? Share your thoughts with us below.

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