I get it now. I get what Charlie is trying to tell me. I get what’s true for me because of that.

I was captive, and while in a captive state I was tortured. I held on though. I survived. I fought for my freedom and I got the hell out.

And then I discovered—in a delayed way, but nonetheless—the whole reason I fought so hard for my freedom is dead. The thing that kept me going day in and day out, no matter how hard things got or how painful, is gone.

I am alive, but there’s really no reason to live anymore. I can find new reasons to live, but they aren’t the same as the old one. They are pale in comparison, insubstantial. They won’t get me across the street, let alone through the trauma memories I still need to process.

Natashka was my family. She was that picture I kept in my breast pocket while the bullets flew by in my war. She was the letter I wrote home I couldn’t send after the guards beat me and starved me and stripped me naked in the POW camp.

You don’t live through the shit I lived through just because you feel good about yourself and think you deserve more. You live through it because you dream of something else.

Maybe some people do, but I didn’t.

The dream is gone and now I have to think what to do next.

There are flowers outside the kitchen window. It’s a succulent—they have this kind of succulent where you live—and it blooms at this time of the year. It is blooming now.

And I make myself look out the window as I put the coffee on, at the flowers blooming there. This is what is left now. It isn’t the same, but it is all there is.