02 – A (not so) Little Fall of Rain

Continued from The Scars We Wear

A little fall of rain

Can hardly hurt me now.

You’re here, that’s all I need to know.

And you will keep me safe

And you will keep me close

And rain will make the flowers grow.

 “A Little Fall of Rain,” Les Misérables, Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel

*******

I remember it. That night I finally made a decision.

Not unlike tonight, it was une nuit sombre et orageuse or more aptly una noche oscura y tormentosa. Dark and stormy in any language. However the simple single room cabina nestled between the rainforest and Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast couldn’t have proved any more disparate.

It being the rainforest, one would naturally expect it to rain. But it doesn’t, at least not so much during the dry season months between November and April. But that night, it was as if the heavens had opened and held nothing back. The fat raindrops splattered through the canopy of trees and clattered on the tin roof with such rapidity they drowned out the regular crash and roll of the waves along the shore. Only the not so distant deep grumble of thunder raged louder.

No wonder I woke gasping, heart thumping and breathless then too. And feeling for all the world as if the darkness was collapsing in on me again. That I was back under that car. Trapped with the water rising.

Thank goodness it is only at night. When the panic comes. When the rain triggers the memories and the memories, the nightmares and the nightmares, the fear.

Yet it’s no reason to wake you, particularly with an early start ahead of us the next morning, so I slipped out of bed and out the door to retreat under the covered porch in hopes of a little air and some slight measure of composure.

But before long there was the sudden warmth of that shawl, the one you’d only just given me a few days before, being draped over my shoulders. The gesture’s much appreciated, even if I hadn’t registered being cold. However the brush of your wedding ringed hand along my skin proved far more warming.

You needn’t ask as your fingers searched for mine in the dark what had woken me. You already knew. We both did. Knew too what the other was thinking so well there was no need to speak of it. But we did. For the first time really. About that night out in the desert and the day that followed.

And maybe it was a strange time and place to talk about it, particularly when we never really ever did. Wasn’t exactly romantic I suppose. Good for us, good for us both, even if not the things honeymoons are usually made of.

But then perhaps sometimes there are just some things easier to say with the darkness between you. And some things that just need to be said.

You know, dying alone out there in the desert hadn’t been what I’d been most afraid of out there. I’d been far more scared I’d never see you again. And I didn’t want to die like that. Never seeing you again.

And then, then there you were, there the first thing when I opened my eyes. It was — Even now I still don’t possess the words for that moment.

When I confessed as much to you, you drew me close, enfolding me in the way only you ever could and did and we simply held each other for a long time listening to the rain.

We ended up talking for hours, long after it stopped. Until dawn broke and the sky was bright and blue and beautiful once more. That morning like no other I can remember, smelled of rain and damp earth, greenness and life.

And I don’t know the exact moment that night when I finally made that decision. I only knew that as we stood there watching the world wake, I had.

I’d finally made the decision to choose hope.

Took me long enough.

Once, not all that long after you just showed up out of the blue one day in the middle of the rainforest, you told me that in the end, there are really only two choices in life: you can live in hope or you can live in fear.

Fear was easier, worse, but easier; hope harder as it frequently requires a measure of faith I have to admit I don’t always possess.

But a life lived in fear isn’t just a half-life but an unlived one. You told me that, too. For fear makes us powerless to live. It is hope which gives us the strength enough to try.

That night, it was time. Time to stop being afraid. Certainly time to stop being a hypocrite. For I’d chided — more than chided — you for not making a decision. Except I hadn’t either, not even after all that time away. Sure, I’d managed to change the outward trappings of my life; the inner ones not so much. It takes a lot more than a change in occupation or location, making that choice to choose hope and decide to go with the living.

Amazing how you proved far quicker to heed and take the advice I’d given Brass nearly five years before. But then what was it Oscar Wilde always used to say? “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”

But that night I decided I didn’t want to live in fear anymore. I was tired of being scared, being angry, forever fighting all the old fights and mostly myself. Tired of reopening the same wounds, probing the same hurts, cataloging the same scars. Of being so afraid of self-destruction. Repeating history. Of what had been and what could be.

Maybe there wasn’t — isn’t — a murder gene, but I know enough psychiatry and genetics to know precisely how much higher a chance you have of developing schizophrenia if a parent has it. The numbers don’t lie.

Although the numbers aren’t nearly as worrying as what that potentiality might mean. I might lose my temper and far too often than I know is good for me. But really losing control, losing one’s mind and one’s reason, losing oneself, it’s unthinkable. It was hard enough watching it from the outside; I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like inside.

Except inconceivability makes it all the more scary, rather than less. Makes you cling to reason and rationality all the more in fear of one day losing them. And then losing everything that matters most to you.

After Natalie, after Warrick, I really did fear that. Feared self-destructing. Feared destroying the only home I’ve ever really had. And we both know how adept I can be at self-destruction.

You know, or at least I hope you know, although now that I think about it, I’m not so sure you do, that when I told you I couldn’t stay, that I had to go, it had nothing to do with you. That it didn’t mean you weren’t enough. It was because I wasn’t.

What I didn’t realize then was screw genetics, screw nurture, you still have a choice. DNA wasn’t destiny. And all the science, the predictions, the propensities, what they all fail to take into account is the human capacity for hope and change. And love.

You taught me that too.

Of course none of these things can cure conditions, change the diagnosis, but when it comes to the prognosis, they make all the difference in the world.

Ultimately, hope and love isn’t about the absence of fear, but the willingness to hazard to share it.

We grow up thinking there is shame in needing and asking for help. That it’s a sign of weakness, of a deficiency in ourselves. That we are somehow lacking. When it is just the opposite. Admitting you need help, that you can’t do it all on your own, takes far more courage and strength.

After that night out in the desert, I thought, pigheadedly maintained is more like, that I had to do it all on my own: exorcise all my ghosts and demons, fight my own fight and fight it alone like I’d always had.

You know for someone who’s supposedly pretty smart, I can be monumentally stupid about the really important things.

For I was wrong. Dead wrong. And it almost cost me everything. And most of all it almost cost me you.

And maybe we don’t deserve to be loved, maybe we don’t deserve to be happy, but thankfully we don’t always get what we deserve. Sometimes we get better.

It took me until that night to really grasp that no matter how bad, how broken our lives might be, you don’t have to throw it all away. And you don’t have to do it alone. That is what we’re here for after all: to help pick up each other’s pieces. Even if sometimes you risk getting a little hurt along the way.

And there are still those battles I have to face. You can’t fight them for me any more than I can fight them for you, but now at least we fight them together.

Of course that doesn’t mean things are easy. They’re just different.

Nor is any of it as simple as a single choice. It’s not like you can decide it once and then it’s all over and done with and you never have to do it again. Nothing in life is ever that easy.

Some days are certainly a hellava lot harder than others.

And even now, there are times when my frustrations or all the things I do not understand, even those old ghosts get the best of me. I still lose perspective and my temper. Screw up. Storm off. Regret it when I’ve had the chance to cool off. Some things don’t change. And there are still the nightmares, insomnia, hurts and heartache and the cases that cut you to the quick. No, it doesn’t mean I’m never afraid. There are plenty of things out there that will and should scare the hell out of any reasonable person.

But as for living in fear, no. I choose not to do that anymore. No matter how hard it is; it’s worth it.

Continued in Determinations.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. vsky57
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 20:26:51

    Wonderful character reflection! It’s wonderful how you even gave us the supportive Grissom. Not to choose fear. I so need to listen to this right now!
    Thank you!

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