Chapter One

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"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet


Man was so created by the Lord as to be able, while living in the body to speak with spirits and angels as in fact was done in the most ancient times; for, being a spirit clothed with a body, he is one with them. - Emmanuel Swedenborg

In the past three years, I lived a lifetime. It's hard to imagine so much change can come so quickly to so many. I suppose you could trace the roots of it to the dawn of time but, for me, it all started on an ordinary Tuesday.

The heavy, rich scent of freshly-wakened, rain-damp earth drifted in on a warm breeze that brushed my cheeks with butterfly kisses. Outside the kitchen the birds and squirrels chattered, going on with their springtime business, but I was as good as deaf to them. A thousand voices only I could hear vied for my attention. I squeezed my eyes shut. My hands gripped the edge of the sink so hard they ached. I was aware of the pain. I focused on that. My hands hurt and my head throbbed dully with my heartbeat: a slow, steady, unending rhythm. I counted the beats as they pushed my blood through my veins again and again. Breathe in. Breathe out. That's all that's required. Focus on that. Put attention on what's real.

Donovan's voice broke through my thoughts. "Can't we do something?"

My eldest child often repeated this plea. His need to be constantly entertained and distracted was, at times, exhausting. He seemed even more desperate than usual today. How could I blame him? I was more desperate than usual today, too. I longed for a single moment of inner peace.

"Wanna go slide!" Ike chimed in.

The chatter quieted, as I directed my attention to my boys. The dirty breakfast dishes were still on the table, like the homeschool math worksheets which remained untouched in front of the boys. Laundry beckoned, the floors were filthy, and I needed to call the cable company about the last bill. There must have been a dozen chores that seemed urgent, but in front of me lingered two sets of the saddest little puppy dog eyes you could ever imagine. I couldn't help but laugh at their dramatic efforts. I knew Michael would still be at work in his studio for a few more hours. Beyond the window, the clear blue sky offered hope of clarity and new beginnings.

I determined to ignore the restless, crawling sensation in the pit of my belly; to shut my mind to the whispers in my head, and convince myself my troubles were caused by cabin fever. Or perhaps exhaustion. How long had it been since I'd had a decent night's sleep? I filled my lunges with the fresh air, and it really did feel good, like spring, after a long, cold winter. Wasn't that exactly what I needed?

I shoved the disconcerting internal voices to a far, dark corner, and forced my voice into a cheerful tone. "Know what, guys? I'm in. Go put on your mud boots and coats. Let's get out of here." The dishes and worksheets could wait.

They cheered. I was a hero! My spirits lifted. Yes, a trip to the park was just what we all needed. I stuck a note on the fridge, just in case Michael came in early, and we headed out on a grand adventure. My giggling boys ran ahead and came back to me and ran ahead again like rambunctious puppies. They chased each other, splashing through every puddle. Warm sun seeped into my pores and eased the ache in my spirit. I took deep breaths, allowing the sweet scents to sweep away the worry. The earth beneath my feet, the breeze on my skin, the chirping of the birds in my ears: It was good. It was solid and real.

The park was packed. We were not the only people with a major case of spring fever. A clamor of noise reached out to us, loud enough, I hoped, to smother my internal chatter.

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