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Prologue

And It All Came Crashing Down

The couch was hard and cold. No matter how many times I tried to get comfortable, I couldn’t. I turned to the left and shifted to the right, but it didn’t matter. There was no sinking into the hard cushions comfortably. Instead, I just felt out of place; a foreigner lying on the cold hard couch, alone in the corner of my cramped living room.

It was an October morning in 2005, one that should have felt full of wonders. Outside the world was full of natural earthly sounds. Nature sang a tribute to The Creator - a joyous symphony of earthly celebrations. The crisp autumn air flowed in through the windows, providing an outside freshness to the indoor air. The birds sang their sweet songs of glory, calling for everyone to arise and be glad as a new day had come.

It was early enough in the morning that humanity was still quiet and the city rested in a moment of stillness; the majority of its patrons were still sound asleep. It should have been one of those gifts of a morning, where I was given the chance to embrace the sounds of nature’s calling. But rather then celebrate, I felt inclined to mourn.

I could smell breakfast.

The neighbor’s cooking provided a delectable mixture of aromas that escaped her apartment and plied me with a warmth of scents. But rather than make me feel alive, it made me nauseous and sick to my stomach.

I continued to toss and turn on the old multi-colored couch made from a fabric that caused my skin to itch. It was supposed to be a southwestern style pattern and chic in nature. In truth it had been some hand-me-down from a rich woman I once knew. She got sick of it and donated it to me at a time where I was lucky I could afford to keep a television in the house, much less a couch.

There was a small cold sheet bundled up at my feet, fresh from the natural breezes. I pulled it up to my chin, not because I was cold, but because I was looking for some sort of shelter from the reality of a fateful morning. I didn’t have the courage to face the outcome of the day, so instead I attempted to pull the sheet up over my face and perhaps, even for just a second, will it all to go away. I wanted to pretend my “yesterday” had never really happened.

I decided not to risk it. I couldn’t handle another disappointment. I didn’t want to discover that closing my eyes and covering my face did nothing to ebb the bite of reality.

Finally I sat up, confused, frustrated, and unsure of where I stood in my newfound predicament. When there’s uncertainty, we predictable beings tend to do what makes sense. We resort to the comfort of daily habits. I stretched my hand across the arm of the sofa and over to the small end table and reached for a fresh pack of menthol cigarettes. Expertly, I removed the cigarette from the foil container with one hand and used the other hand as a compress against my forehead, trying to dissipate the pounding in the center of my skull.

I positioned the cigarette between my lips and held the lighter’s flame close to the tip. Taking a deep inhale, I drew the flame into the skinny white tube of tobacco.

I found comfort.

Just for a second the burning in my lungs and the light-headedness reminded me of who I was and where I’d returned to. There was no escaping it. It didn’t matter how bad I wanted to; my “yesterday” was proof of that.

With a deep sense of foreboding and resignation I accepted that for another day, I was a failure. It was a hard truth to swallow and I couldn’t help but feel angry and hurt as the tears welled up in my eyes.

I was obviously not the first or the last to say it, but it didn’t matter, I knew I had to ask.

I rose from the couch with a mouthful of morning breath and a cigarette between my lips and stepped outside onto my balcony. Staring up at the bright blue morning sky, I clumsily wiped the salty tears as they spilled down my cheeks and whispered, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?”