Life Comes Back / by Sarah Schwartz

It rained something fierce during the wee hours of the morning—the sound of the steady drops woke me around 2:00am, where I spent a few sleepy moments confused as to where I was. Had I gone home to Oregon? No, no, this was my bed in Southern California, where it almost never rains, and yet, there it was—the sound of earth receiving much needed water, under the cover of darkness. I fell back to sleep.

A few hours later, my alarm went off. The rain had stopped, but the ground testified to the outpouring, shimmering in the sunlight.

I noticed the snow-capped mountains in the distance as I drove to work, only ever visible in the aftermath of winds strong enough to wipe away the smog that permeates Los Angeles County.

A handful of years and a remodel ago, what is now my office, was my friend Alicia's work space. A few years my senior, Alicia worked at the university where I was completing my degree, and had welcomed me to use the space as my own, should I need a moment of quiet, or a private place to shed tears—something, that at the time, I did only as often as I breathed.

I try not to dwell the sensations of that season, but if I close my eyes, I can quickly call to mind it's lead vest like heaviness, or the salt water waves of sorrow that threatened to drag me beneath the surface of the sea.

***

The door of Alicia's office now lists my name—Sarah Schwartz, Graduate Assistant—and earlier this week, I sat by it's floor to ceiling windows that overlook the campus' main walkway, and scribbled a note on the title page of a favorite book.

Dear ———,

This is the book I wish existed during my own shipwreck. I hope it finds you like a friend.

It's ok if you don't (or can't) believe me right now, but I promise, one day—life comes back.

-Sarah

***

Life does, in fact, come back.

Slowly, in fits and spurts, through the hard work of dragging your ass to therapy and taking your medication, and through the faithfulness of friends not so impressed by you as to not tell the truth. It comes through time and the worn edges of poetry books and the albums you listen to endlessly, convinced someone stole your journal and put it to song.

It comes through small miracles—bumping in to that person who said something they probably thought was insignificant, but set a piece of you free, or was a balm to a wound you previously thought would never stop smarting. It comes through yoga for your tight back and spontaneous drives to the ocean to catch the sunset, and through wine on the back porch with it's perfect view of the neighbor's lemon tree.

It comes through celebrating your people like you just got word that birthdays will soon be illegal, and not resisting when they celebrate you in like fashion. It comes not so much through making peace with your flesh and blood frame as much as it does falling in love with the curve of your own hips and the tips of your mile long eyelashes.

It comes through the full body exhale of forgiveness.

It comes through weekly family dinners with your six best friends, and the way your Grandmother says your name.

It comes through the first, and one thousandth time you say aloud, "I can't do this alone."

But life does, in fact, comes back.

***

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott