“On earth as it is in Heaven……”
A decade had passed since the death of Robyn Sullivan. Isabel was in the store buying milk, squash and peas. As she walked down the aisles, she could hear a girl of about 7 crying as if her heart would break. Girls this old did not cry in public very often, and certainly not wailing like this girl was. Isabel quickened he pace since the girl’s crying was making her stomach twist. Why did she have to feel pain this deeply? Surely, the girl was just crying because she had been denied some treat.
Her memory flew back to her own childhood without effort. Crying was not tolerated at home. Horrible pain in her body would come without warning. Then, she would be whisked off to her room to wait until her father came home. Hours would pass and no one would even peek through the closed door. Her brothers and sisters were all finding what pleasure they could, far away from Robyn’s eyes. The pain would ride her until it was over. No one had heard her cry.
At one point, she’d had a doctor. He was kind and had said that kids ate the wrong things and it would pass. When she was 13, a classmate, Annie, finally asked why didn’t she call the doctor for an appointment herself? She pointed out that Isabel wasn’t a baby and if she was sick, Isabel should call Annie’s father, who was an internist.
Annie’s dad, Dr. Skinner had been amused when his nurse said that little Isabel Sullivan had called. His daughter had told him how often Isabel was sick. He was sure there wasn’t anything really wrong, but he was glad that his daughter was so compassionate. Her total faith in her father as a healer, made him very happy, so he cheerfully called the Sullivans to tell them about Isabel’s call and to get a little more information about her illness.
Dr.Skinner had not been prepared for the shock and anger that came from Isabel’s parents. Still, he maintained a diplomatic tone as he asked about the girl’s symptoms. He hadn’t expected so much resistance to a simple check up, especially when he found out she hadn’t seen a doctor in 6 years. What on earth was going on? The Sullivans weren’t broke. Far from it.
The initial exam was troubling. The girl was in pain, that was certain. He’d have to do a barium swallow and then x-ray her. He found one heck of a hole in her duodenum. How did a girl this young, wind up with an ulcer this size? This was an old man’s disease. He spoke to Robyn a long time. Where was she eating? What was she eating? Did she eat what the other children ate? All of Robyn’s answers sounded vague. The doctor recognized that the mom was overwhelmed by the size of her family. How could she keep track of one child’s tummy ache?
And that was the end of Dr.Skinner. Isabel never saw another doctor until she went to college. Actually, she recovered so much at school, she was amazed that she was pain free. Isabel’s suite mates couldn’t believe she’d never seen an gynecologist. A nurse showed up one day at class and told Isabel that she was suspended. Somehow, Isabel had entered college and there were no records of basic inoculations and no record of ever having been tested for tuberculosis or other contagious diseases. The nurse was kind, but firm. Isabel would have to be completely examined before being allowed to continue at college.
Isabel was thoroughly humiliated. She’d never received so much as a tardy slip before. Tearfully, she called home and told her parents of her suspension. The Sullivans vented their anger over the phone at Isabel about the idiot doctors and nurses. By the time Isabel arrived at the clinic, she was a wreck.
There was no need. As the doctor and nurse weighed, measured, examined, vaccinated her and drew blood and skin samples, they took note that she was extremely clean, extremely polite and extremely frightened. They kept their questions bright and happy. Then, they did something completely unexpected. They asked her if she had any questions, any concerns. And then, they waited. They both knew something was wrong. Beautiful girl ,good clothes ,good grades, good little girl. The doctor checked the record again. The record said she was 17. She looked 15 at the most. The girl had told him about her stomach problems. He needed to check that. How was she feeling now? Was she homesick?
Isabel’s tests came back showing that she was healthy and could start classes again. The doctor and nurse both told her she could come back and talk to them any time. The nurse slipped her a card with her home phone number on it. Isabel was astounded at their kindness. It made her feel dizzy and numb. She went back to her dorm and cried and couldn’t understand why she was crying.
The little girl in the store was crying again and Isabel was an old woman once more. In the 10 years that had passed since Robyn Sullivan’s death, she had discovered a few things. Among the most important, was that she was not the Sullivans’ biological child. The second thing was that before she had died, Robyn Sullivan had tried by every legal means to keep Isabel from inheriting any of the Sullivans’ estate. Money. Money was the why.
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