The themes are "Constellations" and/or "Halloween." I'm not into the scary stuff or Halloween in general, but I was pretty quickly inspired by "Constellations" to write the following scene.
While it's fictional, I draw heavily from my personal life and as I'm still recovering and building up confidence I'm not quite up to intensive review just yet. Thoughts and comments are welcome, but please nothing severe or too intensive (enter anxiety disorder here).
I hope y'all enjoy :o)
The firewood snapped loudly and sent incandescent sparks toward the stars. A faint glow of solar powered light at the trench toilet near the entrance of the campground was the only other light and the bright glow of stars in the dark desert sky was a strange sight for the two campers from the city. Reclining on a ratty picnic blanket beside the fire, they snuggled close and took in the sky.
“Remember how afraid you were the last time we camped here?” Brad reflected, sighing with pleasure at the very obvious difference in his wife’s state of mind for this stay.
“You mean when I stayed up all night having to pee but being too afraid to sleep or leave the tent? Pretty different from lying here, relaxing under the stars with you!” Sarah responded with a touch of fire as old memories churned. “So different… I still have a hard time believing we’ve come that far.”
“It’s been a long way but you’re in a much better place now. I know, I can vouch for nearly every step of it!” He groaned in emphasis and wrapped his arm tighter around Sarah.
The past two years had been a lifestorm neither saw coming. Some of the best moments of their lives and definitely some of the worst. The birth of a son and then a suicide attempt surrounded by the confusion of recovery and treatments alongside milestones and growth spurts. The exhaustion of new parenthood couldn’t compare to the exhaustion of new parenthood combined with a horribly depressed new mother and overexerted husband scrambling to keep the family together. Who had known heaven and hell resided so close to one another?
It hadn’t quite been a desperate scramble the entire time, but for several months barely surviving had been a monumental task. Only recently life had become more pleasure than pain; more stable, balanced, and positive in a way that felt something like what the mythical ‘normal’ could be.
“It’s still hard sometimes to believe I’m okay. Sometimes I’m afraid the darkness will come back and that it’ll convince me life isn’t worth living again. Definitely less often than before, it used to be everyday, but now it’s only every once in a while I feel those doubts. Still scares me though.” Sarah edged closer to Brad and turned her newly teary face into his shoulder.
“It’s okay to be scared and that’s definitely something worth being afraid of.” Brad whispered the soothing words into her hair. “You’ve been through hell and I walked through some of it with you. I know how you feel being afraid of going through that again. Sometimes when you take longer than usual to text me back I start getting nervous that you’re not okay again!”
Sarah smiled at the confession as confused tears dribbled down her cheeks. She was so grateful to be lying here with her husband after so many months of fighting the depression and anxiety and finding her way back to life, but also so sad thinking of the hardship and terror they had endured together.
“It’s good to know that I’m not alone but it’s sad to hear that you feel those fears too. I wish we didn’t have any of this tainting our lives.” A smattering of guilt flushed her cheeks as she replied, but she caught the feeling as it sprouted and told herself that she had nothing to feel guilty for-it was a terrible disease that tore their lives apart, it wasn’t anything she had intentionally done.
“Life isn’t about fairness, it’s about perseverance.” Brad shrugged and without missing a beat, tuned into her grief, “I know you never would’ve wanted that for our family but it happened. We made it through and we can accept that and move on. That’s life and that’s okay. There’s lots of good parts that make up for it, right?’
“I don’t know how you always manage to maintain that ‘go get ‘em’ attitude. It’s like you’re a Willie Nelson song personified!” Sarah rolled over and up onto her elbow, leaning over Brad as he laid on the blanket, “But no matter how you manage, I love you and I’m glad I made it through too.”
She bent forward and they shared a tearstained kiss under the starry sky before Brad mumbled, “Ya know, some Willie Nelson sounds good about now.”
Sarah giggled and gave him an awkward sideways hug before they snuggled together again on the blanket and resumed their stargazing.
“I don’t know how I managed to find someone like you that would be able to go through all that with me and still be eager to see what’s next!” She shook her head, “You’re amazing, honey.”
“I guess you could say the stars aligned-”
“Stars aligned! That’s only for good, lucky things! We had a frickin’ tornado chasing us and tearing up our lives for two years!” Sarah cut him off, sitting up and staring down at him with blatant skepticism.
“Having the stars align isn’t always a wonderful thing, it can be bad too!” Brad argued. “In our case the stars aligned for a horrible postpartum reaction but they also aligned in ways to help us work it out: the great psychiatrist, the support from online friends, the therapy you got, and the great staff at the hospitals and treatment centers. It hasn’t all been pretty, but it’s all been pretty remarkable how we found the help you needed and you worked so hard to get through this. That’s what I mean by ‘the stars aligned.’”
“Hmm.” Sarah remained suspicious but an inkling of pride and a big dose of gratitude helped her accept his perspective. She kissed him again and said, “Well I’m glad they aligned in that way, but boy howdy, they better not align in that other way again!”
“If they do, we’ll know what to do.” Brad smiled and hugged her close.
We're still pluggin' away at getting to that sense of 'normal' and 'okay.' Somehow writing this scene out helped me feed my sprouting hope. Maybe someday we will return to that campground and I will feel at ease instead of afraid? Huh, maybe I did deal with some "Halloween" theme after all talking about fears! Haha, not really "Halloween" in my book, just life!
The journey continues. :o)
Thanks for reading!