woman holding red umbrella standing near tree at daytime

The Moments That Haunt, The Moments That Heal

Every time it rains, I am haunted. It’s as if the memories—the pain of losing everything—will never fully escape my being, as if my beating heart will never be still.

The gentle patter of the rain against the cold, hard earth awakens me from rest. Every drop feels like a storm swelling inside me, a storm of memories against which I will always succumb.

7 a.m. The darkening sky, ominously omniscient of the hours to come. The forest green blouse I should have worn to work. The stillness of the world. The ever-present desire to escape it all.

I fight my way to the house with the blue walls, in need of release. It’s a novel come to life — the foreboding heavens above, the rain threatening to fall in torrents, the relentless storm within, the saddening blue of those walls.

I know I can run at any moment, but every time I yearn to free myself, something stops me in my tracks. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s reason. Maybe it’s the burning desire for more. But I always return to my misery, eying my pale gray cardigan with a relentless sort of envy.

That gray cardigan will always haunt me the most. I will never be able to unsee or unwear the garment that once was the key to my self-destruction. It holds secrets it should never bear, memories that make my heart race, my world blur, and my mind cloud like that early morning sky.

I am shocked awake, heart thumping, keenly aware of the dampness on my cheeks. The light green of the room, the crispness of the sheets, beckon me, but I am angry. How did I end up here, drowning in the pain of my own mind? When can I escape? I remember that gray cardigan, long discarded, and wish I could feel its soft fabric brush against me. Still, something within me, perhaps a force greater than myself, yearns for peace. You are safe here, it chides. Here, you are cared for. But at the end of the day, all I can think of is that stupidly insidious cardigan.

These are the moments that haunt me.

Eventually, the pain fades. The gray hues of my nightmares turn soft and rosy, no longer threatening to steal away my air.

I’m walking across a rickety wooden dock, laughing and chatting alongside a man whose hand I long to hold. The biting February air whips through my wild curls and eats through the cotton of my dress, but I don’t feel a thing. I gaze down at the cresting turquoise waves, briefly recalling the pouring rain, that gray cardigan, my desire for self-destruction. But with him by my side, bridging his life with mine, I feel as though I’m standing on solid ground, the nightmare far behind me.

Together, we enter a small bar. I sip a cocktail at a dimly-lit table, instantly enamored with his easy manner and the gentle gleam in his eyes. We spill stories until after sunset, the pain of the past long forgotten. He says the way I speak is beautiful, and I immediately blush, catching a glimpse of my dress as I avert his eyes. Black, with pink roses scattered throughout. Roses blooming through the darkness. A woman blooming through a painful past.

7 p.m. The darkness of the city streets. The black cotton dress with the roses. My fervent desire to kiss him, fierce and unwavering. We lean into a tender hug, though his eyes tell a different story—he wants to kiss me too. It doesn’t rain tonight. I don’t try to escape. I no longer feel haunted.

These are the moments that heal.

Every time it rains, I am haunted. I am transporting back to that dreary morning when self-loathing burned in my chest. The pent-up trauma of the blue walls and the gray cardigan and the bed that isn’t my own swells through my entire being. My worst nightmare—the day that was nearly my last—consumes me like a flood, carrying me away like I wish he would.

But then I remember him, the man I stood with on the dock as I bridged the pain of the past with the magic of new love. His stories, his words, the sparks between us that enlivened that dimly-lit bar. And as I wrap myself in fantastical realities, I hear him whisper, You are safe here. Here, you are cared for.

Even in the midst of the harsh winter rain, I find peace.

These are the moments that haunt me.

These are the moments that heal.

Lives for red lipstick, high heels, 80’s pop, cats, and Oxford commas.

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