Today I have a story for you.
When I began this blog, one of the things I wanted to share on here were the particular books that hold great meaning to me and why. East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a book that is forever etched on and in my heart.
• A long time ago in a land west of here there were two sisters. The older one, L, had blond hair and was sort of bossy. The younger one, D, had brown hair, freckles, and was ultimately the cooler one, although L wouldn’t have dared to admit that back then. Although they looked quite different, many times they were told they had the same smile. The sisters liked that.
Throughout the years they had their normal ups and downs, but were always close friends despite L being bossy. They had their differences, but they also liked many of the same things. L was the bigger bookworm, if only because she was taller than D. Although D never grew tall, she hit her reading stride in high school. Over the years the girls would read vastly different books and authors, but would occasionally pick a book to read together.
Life continued as it can’t help but do and L decided to leave and go somewhere far away for college. D was ok with this because her life was getting busier as well. The girls knew distance didn’t matter and that one day they’d live near each other again, it was just a simple matter of when and where.
Over the next few years when they were apart they wrote each other so many letters. Even when email became more popular they continued with their handwritten notes. They had grown up writing each other notes, so the writing of letters was just an extension of that little habit.
In their letters they spoke of anything and everything. From the serious to the mundane. They sometimes even made up code names for certain people they might’ve been gossiping about—you know, just in case their letters fell in to the wrong hands. D thought the code names were dumb. She really didn’t care if anyone knew she was talking about them, but went along with it because L said so (ie. bossy).
If only life could remain a certain way forever.
More years went by and the girls continued on. Life handed them good things at times and also introduced them to sorrow. Because they still were not living close together, the letters continued. The girls shared a similar sense of humor and since they each had cell phones by this time, they often called or texted just to laugh about something.
But even if they slowed a bit, the letters never ceased. D often decorated her envelopes in such a manner that the outside was as much of a joy to read as the inside.
Then one day the sky dropped and the ground disappeared in such a way that nothing was ever quite right again.
D was in a horrible car accident. It broke almost all of her small body. And it broke the hearts of everyone close to her.
After a long battle, D’s body finally began to recover. The scars were angry but over time their screaming began to tame. From the outside looking in D was a walking miracle, but D was still hurting. While her bones had healed, her mind still had broken pieces and those pieces were horribly sharp.
Through this recovery L and D saw each other occasionally, talked constantly, but still continued to write. L knew D was hurting on the inside and they talked about it often. They still read the occasional book together and their discussions of plots and characters reminded L of times in the past. Sometimes she would hear an almost lyrical sound in D’s voice and she knew the old D was still in there trying to find her way to the surface. But she didn’t realize just how far the surface looked to D.
Although L and so many others saw incredible odds continuing to be crushed by D almost daily, it was impossible for them to see the distance D still felt she needed to go.
Sometimes when a horizon fails to appear you simply become tired.
And D was tired, oh so tired. The sharp pieces in her mind had not dulled. They simply continued to poke and sometimes cut, only reminding her of it all and how heavy it continued to be.
One day L was at work when her telephone rang.
It was a short conversation. And as simple and as complex as it was—that conversation ended the life as L had known even five minutes earlier.
The sharp pieces had gotten the best of D and it was too much to try and hold together without being endlessly sliced apart on the inside.
D was gone.
And because she was gone, a part of L went with her. Not by choice, but rather a lack of one.
Upon impact, when a heart breaks, the shattered pieces fly in every direction. There is no question whether every tiny piece will find its way back. They can’t. It’s impossible, if for the simple fact that some don’t want to. Some of those pieces go with whatever broke them.
There’s no coming back from an event such as this. You simply breathe because, surprisingly you still can. You put one foot in front of the other and go in some kind of direction. There is no map to tell you the right way. You just keep going the only way you know how.
Years later, fifteen years to be exact, have gone by since L and D last spoke, wrote, or saw each other. L carried on and made her way in life. She’s had good times and the sun has shined many times after the intense season of darkness began to ebb away. She remembers the happy times more than the sad ones. Although time doesn’t isn’t the famous healer everyone claims it to be, it does tend to allow the good to override the bad—if you give it room to do so.
L thinks about D just about everyday. She is sometimes sad when she finds herself thinking about something D has missed, like the nephews she never got to meet. L laughs at something D would’ve clearly made fun of in her unique way. L smiles when she goes through all of the letters D wrote to her. L has D’s words and because of that, maybe some of the broken heart pieces have finally found their way back.
If you have read this story, thank you. It’s been on my heart for a while. And so you know and have the final piece of the story, East of Eden was the last book D and I read together •
“At the right time, in the right light, everything is extraordinary.” — Aaron Rose
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
September is National Suicide Prevention month. Take the stigma away from suicide—talk about it. People are hurting everywhere, show kindness by listening. Hug a little longer and more often, you never know when it might be the last one.