My grandmother was a woman of great wisdom and immense practicality. As a child with little grasp of the full complexities of the world, she seemed to have every answer one could be searching for, and she never failed to deliver them with an air of pragmatism.
I was never offended by her matter-of-fact way of interaction because I quickly learned that what she said was the truth; sugar coating it would be a lie, and my grandmother was the farthest thing from a liar.
As we crested a grassy hill and came into view of The Prophet’s ephemeral home, one of my most prominent memories of my grandmother floated to the surface of my mind.
There is a sea of too many bodies filling the space that is supposed to be sacred. The same words leave their mouths over and over and over and over again.
They are so sorry.
They’re there for me if I need anything.
They want me to know that he is still here—never really gone.
I know they are trying to help, but how can they say so many things that they nothing of? How can they compare their pain to mine? They barely knew him, and now they’re going to pretend they know what I’m feeling.
The weight of all these bodies, filling this space that is really meant for him—it makes me want to cry. I feel the tears welling up in the pit of my throat. But they don’t come—they haven’t for a week. Maybe they never will, I think.
And then there is a hand, gently taking mine. The smell of rose perfume wafting towards me in a familiar trail. And the hand leads me away from the mob of people, an endlessly gracious gesture.
When we are standing in a quieter area of the chapel, she bends down to meet my eyes. Her long white hair falls down to her hips—a striking contrast to her all black outfit—and her square black glasses frame her knowing hazel eyes.
“Do you want to talk about?” she asks.
I shake my head because, no, I do not want to talk about it, and I’m sick of being asked that question. My whole world is crashing down around me, and there is nothing I can do about it. What else is there to say?
“No, I suppose you don’t,” she answers for me. She sits down and crosses her legs, a feat that would not be so easy for any other woman her age. “Alright then, what are we going to do?”
I don’t know what to say to that because part of me doesn’t know what even means and another part of me doesn’t want to know.
She reads my confusion in a way nobody else can. “Remi, you have to get past this. Pushing it all away won’t do anything but bury the pain deeper. You have to heal, hon. Aaron is gone. And I know that hurts, and it’s going to for a while. But there’s nothing you can do to change it. You just have to learn to get past it eventually.”
“How? He said he’d always be there for me. He promised.”
“And now you have to always be there for you. There’s no one who will ever be there for you indefinitely except you. You need to learn to trust and depend on others, but never put all of yourself into them. Because if they ever step away, you’ll be left with nothing. This isn’t about Aaron anymore. It’s about you now.”
It’s about you now.
I couldn’t force the words to make any sense at the time, but now they finally did. And here I was, standing above The Prophet’s house, coming to her for answers when finally I felt like I might understand.
“What are we waiting for?” Dagan asked, leading the tumble-like walk down the hill to the eccentric home.
It was composed of a motley assortment of colorful quilts sewn together in a canopy that draped over the entirety of a structure constructed from strands of glass. The entire creation was not tall but spanned a great distance across the ground.
When we had reached ten feet from the tent, The Prophet herself emerged. Her long white hair was braided with colorful ribbons down to her waist, and she wore a dress that shimmered a rainbow of colors with every step. Despite her age, she radiated youthful elegance.
“Bria. Dagan. Remi.” She turned and smiled at each of us in turn. “I’m so glad you could finally make it. It’s good to see most of you again.”
She carefully stepped over to Dagan and enveloped his hands in her own. “Congratulations,” she said. Her smile was secretive, bearing hints of a conversation Bria and I would never really know of. “Leave this to me now.”
She moved next to Bria with the light grace of a butterfly. “Thank you,” she said, and that was all.
And then she came to me. She stayed a couple steps away, tilting her head in delicate inquisition. Then, “It’s good to see you, Remi. I think we need to talk. Bria and Dagan, could you give us a moment?”
“Of course,” Bria said, leading Dagan away.
“Let’s sit.” The Prophet sank to the grass cross-legged and waited for me to join her. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence as we both declined to speak first. Her eyes met mine, reading me so thoroughly, I felt there wasn’t a secret of mine she didn’t know.
“You’re healing,” she said finally.
“I am.” I was surprised at my own words because I hadn’t fully come to terms with it until now. I was healing. “This has… helped.”
She smiled knowingly. “But this was you, remember that. All of this. There is no one who can take the responsibility for you’re healing but you.”
“Can’t you?” I was finally beginning to realize what had been prickling in my mind for the last couple of hours. I knew now—how to fix this. “You’re the one who told Dagan to bring me here. Because you knew before any of us did. What’s going on here, I mean.”
“Ah, but I’m your creation. And when you think about it, you created this problem.”
“That’s reassuring.” I rolled my eyes.
“It actually should be. You created the problem that fixed everything. Sometimes things have to completely break to heal. And now that you’ve been able to see that, you know what to do.”
“No, I don’t! I know what has to be done, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to get there. How am I supposed to make this story what it needs to be? I can’t believe in it—I can’t heal it—if I know it’s going to go nowhere.”
“Remington.” Her voice was firm—a call back to the reality I was spiraling away from. “It doesn’t matter if no one else believes in it. Not as long as you do. This world is dying because you don’t believe in it. And I think you know what you need to do”
I did. Even though I didn’t want to because it meant letting go. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.
But I guess I had to be. It was the only way to save everything. To go back and start over.
It was with a baffling amalgam of emotions that I said goodbye to Bria and Dagan. Their endless questions flooded my ears, causing me to doubt the answers I thought I’d found. But I was done with the doubt. I was done grasping for out-of-reach answers. It was time to believe in my story.
Before I could start over and make this story everything it was always meant to be, I needed to fix a mistake I had made. I pulled Bria aside, taking in the carefully collected panic in her eyes.
“Bria, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for everything I know you have to go through. And I’m sorry if you ever felt less. The thing is it’s about you now. It’s not about Dagan anymore. It took me too long to realize that, but I think I’m finally starting to get it. Just remember, it’s about you now.”
“I– thank you? I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say to that.”
“I know, just, y’ know… Keep it in mind.” I smiled, trying to communicate as much of my heart to her as I could.
“What are you going to do?”
“Don’t worry. I finally know what it is this story needs.”
“And what is that?”
“A change in perspective.”