Harper woke early Friday morning with a raging migraine. A low-pressure system was rolling in; and though she saw herself as the human barometer, she had not had one quite this bad in a long time. She made herself get out of bed to let the dog out, but promptly stepped in a pile of poop by the bedroom door. It hurt her eyes to turn the lights on, so in the dark it had not been visible, though the smell should have given her the warning. Yuck. She could see Clutch by the locked doggie door to the back yard oblivious to his master’s disgust. She had stopped leaving it open for security reasons, but now was rethinking that strategy. After washing her foot, she unlocked the doggie door, cleaned up the mess, set out Clutch’s breakfast, and went back to bed. Harper had no desire to even take her myriad natural migraine remedies. She just lathered some peppermint essential oil on the back of her neck and pulled the covers over her head.
She woke at ten with a start, realizing she had not called Tia to fill in for her. When she did, Tia told her she was not available till about three, but agreed to run over and put a sign on the door to inform customers that she was under the weather. Well, that was all that was to be done, so Harper made herself some golden milk and took it with a couple extra turmeric capsules. An ice pack for the neck, and she was back in bed.
The pain in her head was prone to make her dreams weird if she was in fact able to sleep, but Harper tossed and turned unable to really drift off again—well, there was not exactly much tossing because moving hurt. But her thoughts tossed and turned.
As Blaise held her hands and prayed in the restaurant, she had been surprised at the feelings that had risen up in her. Embarrassed, really, but only in front of herself. She had pressed any desire for romance back so far in her psyche as to be non-existent. She had convinced herself that something like she had experienced with Graham wasn’t even possible again, and she was not going to expend any energy trying to track down a man to fill those shoes. But also, if she had to be honest, she did not ever want to be in a relationship that required so much work. Though they were still working on their marriage, of course, Graham and she had arrived at a healthy and loving place before he died, but it had not always been so.
His dad was a deliberate and disciplined man, but not really approachable. The companionship and mentorship Graham longed for from his father growing up was something perhaps his father was incapable of giving. Whether capable or not, it didn’t come. He was such a hardcore determinist that at one point in Graham’s teen rebellion period, his dad told him he doubted that Graham was even one of the elect, the chosen. His mom tended to be judgmental, too, but whether that came from years of living with and enabling a hard man, she wasn’t sure. Though Graham instinctually sought out other father figures at church and in school and had worked through a lot of issues on his own, when she and Graham married, they still had some severe bumpy patches. He had few conflict resolution skills and was more apt to break things and storm out rather than talk. He never hit her, but their dry wall suffered a few holes. Harper had good and loving examples in her own parents, but her personality did not lend itself to confrontation, so the years piled up layers and layers of unresolved conflict. To those on the outside, they seemed to have it all together, but there were too many problems roiling just beneath the surface.
When they lost the baby, that was a turning point for Harper. Enough. She refused to cower and hide anymore and insisted on talking out her grief and any other disagreements over issues that reared their ugly heads. And rear they did. It seemed they could not go through even one day without fighting. It oscillated between verbal fighting and silence—which is still covert fighting. They would make up, but the truce would not last. Against Graham’s wishes, mostly because of the money, Harper chose a counselor to go to and was receiving help, if even just to have someone to talk to. Graham finally agreed to go, too, grudgingly. But they discovered they cared more about their marriage than defending their shrinking personal territory, and that was the beginning—a healing of hurts, a rededication to God and to the love that had drawn them together in the first place. They were a work in progress, yes; but Graham was not the man she married, and their grin-and-bear it commitment had morphed into a passionate love that neither one had even thought possible.
And then it ended. In death. And she felt lost.
By 3:30, Harper felt well enough to get up and eat something. Her stomach was a bit nauseous still, so she had some more golden tea and a few crackers with hummus. Then rather than going back to bed, she sat in the old worn plaid recliner she had found at a thrift store. It was ugly, but supremely comfortable. She laid back with her legs up, Clutch sleeping close by. She held no grudges, but she did determine that security or not, he was going to have constant access to the yard to do his business.
As she laid her head back, eyes closed, she proceeded to self-talk:
I am fine alone.
I am finding my way back to God.
I will not be distracted by fleeting felt need.
I will not be ruled by emotion.
I will feed my heart with friendship, not fantasy.
I will find my strength and sense of belonging in You and Your people.
I am fine alone.
I am finding . . .
Harper heard a light tap at the front door. She opened her eyes and listened. Then, her text alert sounded. She picked up the phone and read, “Harper, it’s me at the door. I saw the sign on the shop. Wanted to see if you’re okay.”