She said, you are in the long night now, girl. The sun is far, far away but dawn will break eventually. Hold tight to yourself and outlast the dark.
I told her I was hardly holding on to anything, much less myself.
She said to keep holding on anyway, to whatever I could find.
She said, you are in the deep ocean waves now, girl. They swell and toss you about because it is their nature to move so. Above you is a hurricane and below you creatures swirl and pull you under, but have faith and the storm will pass.
I told her I was barely keeping my head above water.
She said to keep my head up anyway, or at least, my nose.
She said, you are deep in the dark forest now, girl. It is treacherous and poorly lit. You will be covered in spiders and made more of dirt and animal when you reach the other side. But be steadfast in searching for the moon, you will find a way.
I told her, I hadn’t seen the moon in ages. I’m not sure the soft glow of loveliness will ever find me again.
She said to keep looking anyway, beats the alternative, which is to sit in the mud.
She said you have descended to the darkest parts of the fog now, girl. It is colder here than you thought and you are poorly dressed for winter. No one will aid you as you sink like a stone towards the center of the earth.
I told her, I was too full of sorrow to care what happened to me any more. It would be better to just turn to rock.
She said to keep remembering the spring anyway. Remember your mother’s laugh and how the flowers bend in the breeze, the feeling of someone loving you, really seeing you and wanting to be nothing but with you. Even though it aches to think of it, remember how you will feel love again.
The long night, the deep ocean, the dense fog, the dark forest. All is tears and night terrors. All is rough road-ed and lonely. All is inky and pungent and the bared teeth of unknown creatures. Icy hands, rotting leaves and quicksand pulling you below the solid ground you thought you held. Whirlpools and blowflies and the crack of tree branches in ice. No moon. No shelter. No relief. Only the slow cadence of time marching as it drags my by my shirt collar forward. I close my eyes as the past retreats becoming smaller every day but not small enough to forget.
You stitch, you scab, you unravel the thread and pick the wound, you scar. You peel the burns back and look at the red, bloody, awful, howling mess of yourself in horror. Then in wonder. Then in awe.
Until finally you know…
You are an incredible creature. A soul as thin as silk and just as strong. A body beaten by time and a long road but still able to bend in the blustering winds. Beaded in the spider web of your own undoing you rise, one step at a time up the never ending, freezing staircase of sorrow and heartache towards the pink prick of light above. Clouds pass over you and you pause for more tears of loss. You hold the railing and sit on the steps. You ask for help. You laugh at yourself for your foolishness. You think about going back towards the dark. The known. The soft earth and silence. You decide against it. You make progress and cry some more. Fat, soulful tears of regret and worry. You stand back up and run a few more steps and lose all energy in the journey. You keep your eyes up, although your heart drags you down. You curse your fate, you blame yourself. You know he is up there somewhere, unable to know the depth of your waters. You know one day, this will make sense. Until then you climb. Still soft and vulnerable, kind and hopeful but snarling. Feral. Quicker to slash, faster able to run, more likely to stand in the dangerous winds of change. Skin a little tougher, a little wilder, a little hungrier from your time underground.
I dare you to test her as she steps slow and steady up and out of the dark. This creature forged salty tears and miscalculations righted. In her heart burns all the hearth-light to keep you warm in winter, so smoldering, she could light your house on fire with a glance. I wouldn’t make her angry if I were you. This silent sentinel of broken hearts, a mother to all who have lost their way, a companion to the circle of time and season. She is steady in her climbing, so slow it looks as though nothing is happening at all, dressed in gossamer and hope but teeth as sharp as razors.