During one of my regular nightly phone calls with Cody he let me know that he had just arrived back from working on an oil platform and that he would be visiting Gabriela.
I covered the visiting rules with him, specifically that there was a limit of two visitors at a time. Cody said he would be taking Kiki, his girlfriend, but I pointed out that this wouldn’t work because I would also be visiting.
It was no great surprise to me that as I sat in the day room visiting with Gabriela, in walked Cody and Kiki, both smiling uncomfortably. As soon as the client assistant caught on that they were there to see Gabriela, Cody and Kiki were informed of the two person limit. I shook my head and Kiki departed without hesitation.
Cody joined Gabriela and me at the table. He was obviously not comfortable but was trying to hide it from his daughter.
The visit started out great because Cody was focused on Gabriela; he asked her questions and spoke very gently with her. He told her she was important and that he and I had discussed her and that we both loved and supported her. He said all the right things! Wow! I was delighted and I think Gabriela was too.
Cody and I stayed till the end of visiting hours and then walked out together. He had made only one misstep during that visit by talking about his upcoming vacation. I hadn’t made anything of it while we were with Gabriela but when we got outside I explained that I knew he was excited about going back to Israel for a family reunion but firmly asked that he not talk with Gabriela about it again because she was far from being able to enjoy a vacation.
Cody didn’t want to hang around and talk after I corrected him. As we parted he said he would be back the next night to visit and that he wanted Kiki to be able to come in and visit also. His logic was that Gabriela didn’t know anyone except Claire, Kiki, himself and me. I told him that wasn’t true, that those were just the people that he was aware that Gabriela knew, and that was because he hadn’t bothered to get to know his daughter at all. I was emphatic! I would not give up one minute of my visits with my daughter for his girlfriend. Cody didn’t argue because he knew me well enough to know when to give up.
The following evening Cody arrived alone and early. He sat opposite me in the waiting room and was obviously more out of sorts than usual.
Out through the locked double doors to ward 400 walked Violet, one of my favorite client assistants, who greeted me in her sing-song African accent.
I gestured toward Cody and made introductions. “This is the sperm donor” I said.
This visit did not go well. Cody talked endlessly about his vacation until Gabriela finally asked him to stop talking about his plans. She told him it made her sad because she knew she wouldn’t be able to go.
When Cody’s topic of choice was taken away he sat silently and sulked. The tension was thick in the room with Cody making it obvious that he didn’t want to be there at all.
When visiting hours were over and we were walking out, Cody asked why Gabriela’s skin was so broken out. To me this was just another indication of how superficially he was interested in his daughter. Gabriela was in a Psychiatric hospital for the second time in less than a month, fighting for her survival, and all he was worried about was how she looked. The look on my face I am sure indicated my disgust with his question.
Sadly, I think Cody didn’t understand that here was an opportunity to rebuild years’ worth of his broken relationship with Gabriela. Of course that would have required him putting her needs before his own for the first time, something he had never done and was obviously not willing to do now despite Gabriela’s situation.