I’m standing in the middle of a field of flowers. My hands trail at my sides and just brush the top of the grass and flowers as I soak in all that is around me. There is the sun, beating down in that South Texas way, warming my face and skin, brightening all around me, and a focal point with my eyes open or closed. There is a soft breeze, hot and lazy that stirs around me. It lifts my hair, slightly damp from the heat, and teases. It feels of the promise of a cooler time, but none of that promise is delivered. There is the smell, oh the overwhelming smell, of wildflowers, berries, the country. It is damp and soft. It is bright and bold. It is soothing, because it is the smell of home. I am 5, 8, 13, 18, 22 and none of it matters because I feel the same at each moment: loved, safe, warm, at peace, at home.
In a flash, I am no longer there. Gone are the flowers, gone the warm sun and the accompanying lazy breeze. Gone the safety, peace, and familiar. I stand now ankle deep in water. Murky water, that swirls and pulls at my feet. I cannot see the bottom, I cannot see the opposite shore but I step ever deeper away from the past, away from the familiar. The sky overhead is angry and dark. The clouds are roiling, fighting, tumbling; each one a bruised and heavy purple. The wind whips at my hair, at my clothes, pulling, pushing, tugging me along. My face is damp with tears, fear – of what I’m not even sure – surges through me, racing my heart on and on. The air smells of electricity and change. It is frightening, it is alien, it is in transition. Onward I step, one foot in front of the next, until the water closes over my eyes.
I stand now with my eyes closed tight. My arms are wrapped around my own body, hugging away the loneliness and emptiness. It is cold, so cold around me. I know, instinctively that even if I open my eyes that all I will see is the pitch black of night. My feet are bare, and beneath them is treacherous ground. It is rough, like old concrete, strewn with glass, rocks, sticks to cut, trip, and bruise me. My walk is a shuffle, careful steps unseeing, unknowing. It is so cold that I can scarce breathe and I cannot place any scent that assaults me with each breath. The hair at the back of my neck stands up, I know that here is not a good place to be, I have to leave and as quickly as I can. And yet, how do I leave when I cannot see? How do I move when each step brings agony? The wind is like a gale force, pushing me, making me stumble, driving me to my knees. I lack the strength to stand again, and so I crawl, blindly, painfully forward.
I stand at the side of the water. I am bruised, bleeding, heartsick, and alone. The sun seems weak and ineffectual on my skin. It cannot warm the clammy place that is my heart. It cannot dry the tears that streak down my face. I have come through, but to what purpose. Behind me is turbulent water that will not be crossed, behind me is the darkness that I will not return to. But ahead? Ahead is a bleak horizon; flat, bare, uncompromising in it’s emptiness. The breeze that comes is stale and old, filled with the desperate sighs of the dying and those that wish they were already dead. I just want to quit, sink down, not move; but that has never been an option. And so I limp forward, broken but not defeated, wilted but craving life, alone but spurned toward the promise of a better day and a better place.
I stand once more in a field of flowers. They are not the same as they once were, but neither am I so how could they be? I am no longer alone. His hand is clasped firmly in mine, warm against the coolness of my skin. I bask in the sun, remembering what peace felt like so long ago. His thumb caresses away the shadows of the tears I once shed, his arms wrap tight around me to cease my shuddering gasps. I feel the breeze and welcome it like the old friend it is, and let it wash over us both. His scent is the comforting familiarity of home. I turn my face to the sun and open my eyes. Around me everything has changed. And for the first time, I am okay with the new and different. It does not pull or tear at me, instead, it welcomes me gently into it’s fold.
It will never be the same again. I will never be the same again. But I will find my fields of flowers, stand in them, and remember. I will remember the warmth, peace, and love of home. I will remember the dark, fearful night of depression. I will remember that not all change is bad and not all new things are terrors. I will hold fast to the love that envelops me and give freely of the warmth which I have received.
I stand in a field of flowers; I am loved, warm, and whole once more. I am not alone and never have been, though I couldn’t open my eyes to see it at the time. I stand in my field of flowers, take a deep breath, and simply live.