Mary Russell’s War (eleven): Continuing the record
13 October 1914
[In the hand of Dr Leah Ginzberg.]
I write this entry in the journal of Miss Mary Russell, who is currently in no condition to do so herself. A journal records a life, and it should be kept.
It is not ten days since the terrible accident that robbed Mary of her family and the world of three good people. Mary is in hospital with a series of injuries resulting from her being thrown from the family automobile as it went off a cliff south of San Francisco. The family’s housekeeper-cook, a Chinese woman named Mah Long, has asked me to help with various arrangements until Miss Russell is able to make decisions for herself.
One thing I help Mrs Long do is take various items to the hospital for Mary’s comfort and reassurance. Inevitably, a cook thinks of food, and although Mary has to be coaxed to eat anything at all, she is slightly more amenable to taking familiar tastes. I, being a therapist of the mind, address the less concrete means of healing this young woman. Her own bedding, her sweater over the hospital gowns, familiar books and childhood toys (we all regress, under trauma.) When I found this journal in her bedroom, it seemed to me she might be interested in recording her thoughts, and I brought it along with the porcelain-headed doll and the worn stuffed rabbit she kept near her bed at home.
As yet, in the four days the journal has sat beside her hospital bed, she has yet to pick it up (indeed, she scarcely speaks.) So rather than allow it to sit abandoned, I have taken the responsibility to sit down with her pen and enter this Tuesday’s events, from another’s point of view.
The journal to up to now appears to have been largely taken up with the events of the European War (Mary: I have glanced over it, but not read it closely, so as to preserve the privacy that is a necessary part of any journal.) Today’s entry has no such headlines, although that war continues, inexorably. There is sufficient conflict here in this hospital room to be going on.