The day I went back to work was a cold and yet soothing day in March. I woke up an hour early, worked on packing up my stuff to move, and then got ready and left for the office. I remember, distinctly, walking out that front door and thinking, "Well, this is it. You can do this, James." I shivered a bit from the biting wind, jumped into my car, and left. I tried not paying attention to the sign in front of our house marked "for sale."
Our house... my house.
The roads were slippery and moist from the dew and a brief morning shower that passed through. The sky was gray but in a optimistic way, if that makes sense. When the sun began its climb into the sky, the gray began to wash away and be replaced with a faint wash of cerulean.
Into the city, away from the miserable countryside.
I remember parking in that garage and taking the elevator down and then finding myself in a crowd. I was surrounded, utterly surrounded, by so many bodies with beating hearts and shaking lungs. I tried to find some sort of relation to those bodies in that crowd. I tried to think: "Well, I'm still living, aren't I? Be happy."
But then the panic attack began and I fall against the wall and I'm gasping for air and crying and it feels as if everyone's looking at me when all I want is for them to keep along and be ignorantly happy. I scream through my teeth and tears flush down my cheeks and her name escapes my throat and into the air. Her name floats out and up towards the sky like a cloud composed of millions of tiny cotton balls.
Someone asks if I'm alright but all I could see was green, green eyes. They begin to pull me towards the hospital but I shake myself back awake and push myself away from them and I drop my suitcase and I run. I run far, far away from the office and the city and the crowds of people.
In my mania I tried to seal away the panic but it didn't matter because I ended up right back where it all started: in that damn church. That damn church she took me to for a morning service one Sunday and that damn church where I promised her we would elope. That damn church where I dared to dream.
I looked up to the windows above me and I felt her name escape my lips again. It floated up and disappeared into the blinding light of the sun's cascade.
It wasn't until a solid month later and a couple of therapeutic sessions until I was able to return to work.