A year ago today … a stamp, a nod, a slam of wood against grain. Final. Final. And a new life begins.

A year ago … I sat in a coffee shop with someone new to me after walking down the freedom trail, under arches of tree branches in full leaf, and sipped cafe au lait and listened to the beat of my heart, rapid rapid fire. This will be a hard week, he said. I am here for you in any way that you need me.

A year ago … the garage door ceased opening in the middle of a sun-filled day. My father, my muse, peering at the motor for answers, finding none. I took to the seas and sat in my own thoughts and sipped a cold drink as the sun set below the nipping waves.

The next day, a year ago, a man fixed the garage and I ordered a new door, one that folds in pieces instead of one large awkward piece. Brown, like my parents’ house. Something new to match my new beginning.

I’ve strolled country lanes and watched the water ebb and flow. I’ve sat atop rocky outposts and kissed someone new, leaning into the wind. I’ve sipped Amarone¬†from a glass bearing the imprint of my lipstick. I’ve slipped raw oysters down my throat in perfect rock-salt succession.

In another life, I drew careful lines and minded the contours. I dipped into the purifying waters and recited sentences I was told to read. I tried to dress the part, look the part, preach the part, live the part but the part conformed to another person, another time, another daybreaking experience inspired by something wholly unrelated to me.

In that other life, I began waking with the sun and carrying my steaming cup onto the porch to listen to the morning. Birds rustled behind the bushes. Squirrels skittered up the trunks of my very tall front yard trees. Because I left the windows open all night, I could hear the baby cry awake above me.

It was bliss, then, because I covered myself in blankets of belief that I was where I was supposed to be. Lots of shoulds peppered my conversations then and I strode in the afternoon sunlight toward a seemingly meaningful destination, only to be met by barriers.

And so it wasn’t bliss. Late, I called the mountains of Wyoming and they echoed in response. If I listened carefully, I could hear the roar of the fast river on the other end of the line and the coyotes in the yard nipping at the dogs.

I couldn’t listen until my heart cried like the river and then, it was no longer time for listening, but time for doing in the ebb and flow of a life misconstructed.

There is always fallout from a grenade, even one carefully placed. Shrapnel that lives in the skin and becomes a story to tell. The skin scars and heals and covers itself over but war wounds dance in the mind, vivid memories like paintings under spotlights.

The trail of the music from that delicate dance becomes a soundtrack behind so many lives. Our problems have nothing to do with you, I told them as I tucked them in at night. You are so completely loved, more than anyone in the entire world.

Holding a stuffed animal in the crook of an arm, sleep came quickly, a slight smile, a quizzical look, alight on a soft, gentle face as the night settled in to stay.

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