September 5, 2020
It’s been a few weeks now since we returned from Eroda. It took me a while to get over the numbness. The absence of everything that was Jovie plunged a hole into my heart that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t the same aching I’d felt before. It was the fact that I didn’t know where he really was or if he was okay. There were too many questions that kept me up at night. I keep replaying the scene in my head, asking myself a million times if there was anything I could have done to get him to change his mind. I could have tried harder to pull him along with us, but the problem was that I knew he was right. I felt the danger of the place the whole time we were in there and chose to ignore the possibility that one of us would have to stay behind. The helplessness of that moment lived with me. I felt it deep inside my soul every morning I woke, the heaviness of guilt pinning me to the bed for hours. A part of me wanted to go back. A part of me needed to go back. Or at least try. If I didn’t I was left with this numbness for the rest of my life. I knew it wasn’t something I would ever get over. If anything, it’s only gotten worse and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t go to therapy this time- what would they say if I told them I went into a parallel universe. I’d be sent away. The last few thoughts I had before seeing Jovie disappear were that I wish it were me... and ever since I’d been back, I still wanted to take his place.
The only thing that kept me from not going back to Eroda was Harvey. He was the only reason that I open my eyes in the morning after only a couple hours of sleep. In between the moments when I woke, I had endless nightmares. I saw Jovie dying, myself dying, Harvey dying and it was pure torture. I woke up at night screaming at least three times a week. Harvey saw the effect of my thoughts hurting me. He saw the constant search and obsession he missed before. But, he stayed. He held me close when I needed it, gave me space when I asked for it, and respected me going through this grief process all over again. He told me to start a journal and write everything down... so here I am.
September 24, 2020
I don’t feel the numbness anymore. It was replaced with a different feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on... I endlessly wondered where Jovie was, if he was okay, or if he was alive at all. I couldn’t stop the thoughts. They invaded my head and didn’t leave me alone. The other night, Harvey and I were having a cup of tea and I got lost in thought staring out the window. I felt guilty because though he was there for me, I wasn’t for him. Something needed to change. They say time heals and I’m just waiting for it to heal me.
I feel like I shouldn’t just write about the bad things here... there’s a little good too. Harvey likes London. He got a job and we live together in my flat. He seems happy. He’s going to therapy for his brain fog and he’s gotten a lot better. I think he feels bad because he can get help and I can’t. Anyway, he met Serena a few weeks ago and they got along really well. I think she’s suspicious because I basically didn’t exist for three weeks and then we both randomly came back. She filed a missing persons report on me while I was gone, but I expected nothing less. I had to lie and say I had to go back home for a family emergency and lost cell service. Sam had called and texted me a lot and I felt terrible because I know she thought I was dead, but she was the first person I called when I got back. Again, I blamed it on my phone having a problem, but she and Milo both yelled at me for a few minutes. I didn’t tell them about Harvey yet because I didn’t really know how to explain it. It’s nice to have people who care about me, I just wish Jovie was still one of them.
October 10, 2020
Sam and Milo have insisted on coming over to visit me in London... I don’t know how to explain to them that Harvey had been alive this whole time. They would never believe what actually happened, but I couldn’t hold them off for much longer.
November 1, 2020
I started writing again. I decided to write about my experience in Eroda and turn it into a novel. I’m not finished yet, but I’m proud of it so far. It’s giving me a sense of control that I didn’t know I needed.
Harvey is trying his best to get me to open up to him. He’s being so patient and kind and it’s making me fall in love with him all over again. I’d forgotten about the little things he’d done before like holding my hand when we crossed the street or making my coffee in the morning. It was foreign and familiar all at the same time.
November 13, 2020
I still can’t stop thinking about him. Today is a bad day.
November 27, 2020
Harvey wrote me a song today and it reminded me of the song he wrote when we were in school. It’s getting a little better.
December 10, 2020
Sam and Milo just got into town yesterday and it was good to see them. Harvey and I had to come up with a whole story about what happened. It took us hours to get our story straight and when they arrived I felt like I was going to shit myself. They were okay with everything though. Now I can laugh at the fact that Milo almost passed out when Harvey greeted them at the door. I didn’t think he’d let go of him when he hugged him. Seeing them was medicine to me.
December 24, 2020
I couldn’t do it today. I couldn’t pull myself out of the bed. I could hear Sam, Milo and Harvey’s laughs in my tiny kitchen, begging me to come out, but I couldn’t. Not today. Today was Jovie’s day... it wasn’t Christmas Eve to me anymore. I thought back to last year and the book he’d gifted me that I had packed up in a box. I wanted to open it just to get a sense of him again, but I wasn’t ready for that. It was painful.
December 26, 2020
After the last entry, I couldn’t go to sleep that night, so I decided to take a little trip. I snuck out of bed at around 2 AM and found myself on the same train Jovie and I took to that little coastal town last year. I left a note to Harvey to let him know I was okay and not to worry. I just needed to sit on that beach again. I wanted to feel what I felt then.
Sam and Milo leave later today, but my time with them has been therapeutic. Long talks with Sam and laughs with Milo were everything that I needed. I’m glad it’s just me and Harvey again though.
February 4, 2020
I haven’t written in a while. Everything was going well until today. Harvey and I got into a fight. It was my fault. I got frustrated at him for something so small and I shouldn’t have. He’s been so patient with me this whole time. I feel terrible so now I’m going to make the walk of shame to apologize.
February 15, 2020
It’s getting better. Everything is getting better. Last night, Harvey took me to dinner for Valentine’s Day and it was the first time I really felt like myself again. We both got dressed up and had a great time. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much.
March 22, 2020
Harvey surprised me with keys to a new little house this weekend. It’s just outside of the city and absolutely gorgeous. I think being in the city all the time stressed me out a bit, so it was a nice change of pace. I’ve been packing boxes all afternoon and the move is exiting... I needed something new. I know I haven’t written in a while, but things are getting better. Time is healing me, but Harvey is too. I’ve been to myself this whole time... I’ve been trying so hard to get out of this darkness, but I’ve isolated myself through the process. The other night he said something that struck me so I had to write it down. He’s good with words sometimes, you know? He said,
“You have to let me help you. You have to let other people help you or it’s just not going to work. I know you want to get out of this. You can’t keep pushing me away from your darkness. I feel it. I see it. I know every corner of that darkness and I want in. I want to help you. You’re trying to do this all by yourself and it’s impossible. People don’t work like this... and neither do the most beautiful things... like flowers. Wildflowers don’t grow by themselves in the dark. Wildflowers grow in the sun with all of the other beautiful things. Never alone.”
Three years later and here it is in my hands. I’d thought I’d lost it from moving and making place for new life through the months, but the stars on the cover blinked back at me just as they would in the night sky. Memories of Jovie flashed through my mind as I pulled back the cover. I’d said before that I would feel guilty for the rest of my life and though I had healed and found some sort of peace, that guilt was still there. I smiled to myself as I turned pages, replaying his voice in my head reading about planets and stars and the universe. As I flipped the page to a big picture of Saturn, a piece of paper fell to the ground. I bent and picked it up before cautiously unfolding it. My heart leapt to my throat when I read the first words in familiar handwriting.
I don’t know if you’ll ever find this, but I thought I’d give it a try. I’m okay. You have to believe me when I say I, Jovie Baker, am okay. I am alive and well and still raising hell. I know that you’re worried about me and I know that you hate yourself for leaving without me, but I am okay. Please don’t be mad at yourself on my behalf. I knew what I was doing in there. I knew I wasn’t getting out the moment we drove in, but I couldn’t bear to not risking it for you. You needed to find him. It wasn’t his time to leave yet and I think both you and I both knew that. You’re both meant to be with each other in every universe under the sun. Another thing, stop saying that you aren’t as smart as I am because your idea about us trying to leave breaking the cycle actually worked. There are people here and they’re happy now. Lilah finally came back around and even though she was a bit of a bitch before, she’s okay now. I have friends here, Maeve. I’m not alone. I wish I could see you, but just know that I am happy here. Write back soon. Just place it in the same page you found it. Tell Harvey I said he’d better be taking good care of you.
As soon as I read the last words, I sprinted out the door to find Harvey. There was no way this was real, but it was his handwriting. It had to be Jovie. Maybe we were connected by the smallest thread of a meaningful book, maybe it was something else. We would never completely understand how this universe works. I swung open the back door and stepped outside. The sun was just beginning to set above the other houses in the neighborhood and the air was calm and pleasant.
“Harvey!” I called, searching the back garden for my husband.
“What is it darling?” he called, kneeling behind a blossoming flower bed.
I walked over to see him with our little girl, brown curls bouncing in the summer breeze just like her dad’s. He pointed at different flowers, telling her about each one and I paused to watch before telling him about the letter I’d found.
“You see, Luna. We have to water them and make sure they get enough water and they’ll be almost as pretty as you by next week,” he smiled down at her.
“Nuh uh,” the two year old chuckled as Harvey tousled her hair before picking her up in his arms.
“She’s a narcissist just like her dad,” he joked and I rolled my eyes.
“I found this in the book,” I explained, handing the note over to Harvey.
I watched as his eyes scanned the page, tears pricking at the corner of his eyes. I found myself feeling like I was going to cry too.
“Is this really him?” he asked.
“This is... this is great news. How do you feel?”
“I’m relieved he’s okay. I don’t know... I miss him still. But he’s alive and I never thought I’d be able to know. I feel like I can breathe now.”
“I know, baby. Why don’t you write back? I’ll take Luna in and get her ready for bed.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll be there to read to her,” I smiled as Harvey placed a kiss on my forehead and walked into the house with our daughter.
I sat on the back steps and thought for a long while about what I wanted to say before deciding to just go in. It was a stream of consciousness and a lot of how-are-you’s and pleasantries but more than anything, I was just glad to have some sort of communication from him. I told him about life since we’d gotten back, moving to a new house, getting married, having Luna and all of the other big things. I sat and wrote until my hand started aching and I knew deep down that he was listening. Before I realized it, the light faded from the sky and I folded the piece of paper into my shirt pocket before going back inside. I could hear Harvey talking to Luna and her giggles echoed throughout the small house. I paused before walking up the stairs and let myself have a moment to be proud of how far I’d come after everything that had happened. Harvey and I didn’t have the most conventional story, but it was a story of loss, growth and love always prevailing in the end.
“I think mom has a new book to read tonight,” Harvey explained as I entered the room.
Luna lay perfectly tucked into her bed, cozy and holding Harvey’s hand up to her face. She gave me the biggest smile when I walked in. The way she loved me was not something I deserved. It was pure and unconditional in the same way that her father loved me, but needing at the same time because I knew I couldn’t let her down. I wouldn’t.
“Are you ready to hear about outer space?” I asked, sitting on the edge of her bed.
Her recent interest had been stars and the planets. She asked so many questions and she was overjoyed when she found out her name meant “moon.” I felt it very appropriate to find Jovie’s book to read for her even though she might not understand it all yet. So, I read like I remembered Jovie reading. I told her about how far away everything was, showed her pictures of constellations and watched her ooh and ahh as Harvey made jokes about aliens on mars. I could see her bright eyes begin to get heavy as she fought sleep, but eventually tiredness won and she curled up quietly, little hands placed neatly under her cheeks.
“I know I say this all the time, but...” I closed the book in my hands and whispered to Harvey, “We made that.”
“We did a good job,” he whispered back.
He stood and pulled me into his arms, resting his head on top of my own.
“I love you, Maeve Davis.”
“I love you too, Harvey.”
He lead me out of the bedroom and I stopped to turn out Luna’s lights.
“Mommy?” her tiny voice came from the bed.
“Yes, baby?” I turned back and walked to the edge of her bed, taking her small hand in my own.
“I love you to the moon and back,” she spoke sleepily.
"You know, the moon’s not that far away. I guess if you really want to make a statement, you’d tell someone you loved them to Saturn and back,” I repeated words Jovie had told me a long time ago.
“Then I love you to Saturn and back,” she smiled at me innocently and I felt tears in my eyes.
“I love you to Saturn and back,” I said, squeezing her hand in my own.
I watched as she turned over and closed her eyes again, content with everything in her own little world and I turned out the lights.
“Goodnight,” I whispered.
I made my way down the hallway to our bedroom and found Harvey waiting for me. Home. This was what if felt like. It was a place where laughter echoed against the walls, books flowed off the shelves, and love bloomed like wildflowers in the garden.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Tori LanghamWrite a Review