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Authors: marian gard

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BOOK: To See You Again
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As if on cue, Reba begins stepping backward toward
the door. "So, happy birthday, dear brother…and great job with the gift,
Rachel. I'm gonna head out now, and leave you two crazy lovebirds alone."

Rachel slips by me and gives Reba a hug. "Thanks
again!"

"You're welcome, doll. Goodnight guys!" Reba cheerily
waves goodbye.

Once we're alone I run my fingers through Rachel's
hair. "Does this mean I can call you Raven again?"

"Yes. I really like it when you do, but I'm
probably going to keep my real name for work and everything."

"Makes sense," I whisper. "I kind of like that it
will be our thing, anyway." I pull her by the hand through the door and back
into my house. "So, you had time to think about everything?"

"I did. The choice to be with you wasn't a hard
one, Collin. I knew I loved you that horrible night in my kitchen so many years
ago. I was just too afraid." She shrugs and looks down, like she feels embarrassed.
"At the time I wanted you to have some way of securing my future, making sure
everything would be OK. I decided that night that you couldn't do that, not
that I even gave you a chance…but now, these years later, I know that wasn't
really the issue anyway. Besides, no one can do that for anyone else."

She takes a deep breath. "Last weekend, when I
woke up after we'd made love, I felt panicked and it took me a while to figure
out why. I realized you found yourself, you know. In the time we spent apart
you came into your own." She reaches up and gently strokes my cheek. "And I am
so happy for you." She sighs. "I, on the other hand, just managed to get more
lost. I didn't want to come back to you like that." She links her fingers
through mine and looks up at me earnestly. "I've made some changes, Collin.
It's just a start, but I'm feeling really good about it. I quit my job, took a
position at a smaller place. It's a big pay cut, but I think it was the best
career move I've made. I took a good hard look at myself and realized I want to
be Raven again. I know it's just a nickname, but it means more to me than that.
I can be driven and goal-oriented and still pursue the art I love. I can be
with the guy I love. I don't have to choose one life over another. I can make
my own…with you."

"I'm proud of you." I pull her into my arms. "I
know whatever you choose to do, Raven; it will be amazing, because you'll make
it that way." She tips up on her toes and kisses me. I kiss her back and then
pull away gently, placing a finger under her chin. "Besides, that Tim was a
real dick, wasn't he?" She laughs so hard that her pale skin turns pink clear
down to her chest. I laugh too, holding her close, thinking that in this
moment, life couldn't be any better.

*** *** ***

 

Raven and I have spent nearly every waking, and
sleeping, moment together since my birthday. It's a party that's soon to end, because
her first day at her new job is right around the corner and I have a business
trip coming up that I can't miss or reschedule. The real world is calling and
we can't ignore it much longer. I trace my finger along each little knot of
Raven's vertebrae on her bare skin. She stirs and rolls over to face me. I pull
her close. "I don't want our vacation to end."

"I don't either," she murmurs, tickling my chest. "But
I'm excited to start my job tomorrow, and I'm sure they've been missing you at
work."

I shrug. "They get along without me better than
I'd like to admit." Raven arches up and rests her head on one arm.

"Maybe that's because you never really left. Has
there been a day when you didn't oversee something major?" She cocks an eyebrow
at me.

"It's true, my mind has occasionally been at work,
but my body," I roll on top of her, never tiring of the sensation of us being
skin-to-skin
everywhere,
"has been all yours."

She hums a satisfied sound and kisses me. "What
are we going to do when we have to return to this so-called real world?" she
questions, a whimsical smile on her face.

"I guess we'll just have to promise to be each
other's forever." I look deep into her eyes and she looks right back into mine.

"I think I can do that."

Author's Note

 

While Collin's character is fictional, struggles
with mental illness are very real. People's experience with depression can
vary, and while many people who suffer from it do not experience suicidal
thoughts, as Collin did, it can be a serious symptom of the illness.

Unfortunately, a great number of people suffer in
silence and may not even recognize their symptoms as depression. The good news
is that it's a treatable illness and the vast majority of those that seek help do
experience improvement in their condition, and in many cases, are able to resolve
it. If you think that you may be suffering from depression, anxiety or another
mental illness, get help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a
helpline (800) 950-NAMI (6264). This is a great pathway to obtain support, information,
and referrals.

It's also important to note, that Collin's
father's fictional death is a tragic example of what can happen if a serious
illness goes untreated. According to the National Institute of Mental Health,
bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as
many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder commits suicide. While this
is a troubling statistic, it does NOT mean that the diagnosis of bipolar
disorder is a death sentence. Year by year, more advancements are made in the
treatment of this, and other mental illnesses.

I hope that we can work together to reduce the
stigma of mental illness and forge a culture that supports and encourages
people to seek help, without the fear of judgment. Our brain is an organ too;
there should be no shame in giving it the same care or treatment we would with
any other part of our body.

*** *** ***

Take care of your own mental health.

Encourage others to take care of their mental
health.

Practice empathy.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Thank you to my husband for encouraging me to share
my writing. You and our beautiful children are my happy ending.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who have
supported my desire to create and share stories. I can't even begin to tell you
how much your support has meant to me. Putting something that has come from
your heart out in to the world is a terrifying thing. To have people in your
life who are true friends through thick and thin is a gift, and I am blessed to
have each and every one of you.

To those of you who read Alexis and took the time to
share your support with me---thank you!!! You made my day so many times over.
You'll never know just how much it has meant.

Special thanks to Kim, Laura, Michelle, Autumn, Bobby,
Sarah, Linda, J.R., Kathy, Rayanna, Jason, Amanda, Amy & Todd, who helped
with some or all of the following: reading drafts, providing critique,
proofreading, cheerleading, and technical assistance. I owe each of you a debt
of gratitude.

Finally, Effie & Heidi, you are my social work
sisters!  Thank you so much for being incredible friends, and for your endless
encouragement and support. I couldn't have done this without you. It is the
process that matters most, and I so loved your participation in it. Thank you,
thank you, thank you!

About the Author

 

I am a mother, daughter, sister,
wife, and friend and am blessed by all of these relationships.

 

I have heard a lot of sad stories
in my lifetime and have had the great honor to know many survivors. I've learned
from each of them.

 

I am sucker for happy endings
because I believe everyone deserves one at some point in their life. I believe
strongly in social justice and helping to take care of, and give a voice to,
the disenfranchised in our society. I am deeply thankful for the times in my
life when I have had the opportunity to make someone else's life better, even
just a little.

 

From the time I was able to read,
I was moved by the tales of characters in fiction, and awed by the way a book
is able to transport you to another time, place or even way of thinking.

 

Thank you for taking the time to
read this novel. If you enjoyed it, you may also like:
Alexis

 

Find Marian Gard on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/mariangardauthor

BOOK: To See You Again
12.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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