I’ve written before about how events in my life seem to be eerily reflected in the books I am reading. You have to admit, this is quite strange. In fact, there might even be a story idea here; woman predicts the future through reading novels whose plots come true in her life. This is a bit like the YA fantasy series, Inkheart, which I read with my children some years ago, but not really.  Anyhoo, I must say that I’m not so excited that life is imitating art these days. In this particular instance, I can relate all too closely with Thea Harrison’s more recent Elder Races novella, Pia Saves the Day.

In this installment of the epic tale of Dragos and Pia, there is an accident and Dragos is injured and loses his memory. Pia must think fast and do what needs to be done to bring him back to his senses and to her. Now, don’t get me wrong. You all know how much I love Pia and Dragos, but this book made me distinctly uncomfortable. Because the expected HEA didn’t really look like I expected. Which makes Harrison an excellent writer, but kind of threw me for a loop.

And then I started to feel like I was riding the Anaconda at King’s Dominion when the loops kept coming fast and furious. My husband and I had a fight. It was one of those types of fights that make you go down to the basement to check the foundation for cracks afterward. And there were some cracks. Which was frightening. And in the aftermath of the earthquake, when the repairs are being made, you have to wonder if the repairs will make the structure stronger or weaker.  I’m pretty sure it will be stronger. But only time will tell. And living with uncertainty (which we all do every minute of every day, in reality, although we don’t always acknowledge it), is even more frightening. But I can take some inspiration, as I always do, from my beloved fantasy books, and look to Pia and Dragos for my example.

When I read the exchanges between Pia and Dragos after the accident when he doesn’t remember her, I was immediately transported to that awful place when I’m fighting with my husband and it feels like any connection we once had has been irreparably severed. Now, I’m told that not everyone feels this way during fights, but I come from a very dysfunctional family of origin where being cut—completely—was the SOP for my mother when she was angry. And that feeling of having the rug pulled out from under me when the most important person in the world is mad or unhappy with me is devastating to this day.

And that is exactly what happened to Pia when Dragos doesn’t remember her. The coldness with which he regards her is glacial and so different from the heat they normally generate together. Devastating. She feels like someone stabbed her in the heart. I could relate, though I wish I could not. But she is lucky (which she reminds herself about quite often, which Iove about her). Her troubles were no one’s fault–just a freak accident. Mine were of our own making, where the vast differences in my and my husband’s personalities had come home to roost and cause all manner of issues.

The details are neither important nor interesting to anyone but my spouse and me. But the unfolding of events and their aftermath follow a pattern that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever had a long-term relationship. I did something that made him unhappy. He did something that both hurt and angered me. Both of us were too raw to talk about it, so we retreated to excruciating courtesy (much like the Elven High Lord and his consort in another Elder Races book, Lord’s Fall) lest we exacerbate an already volatile situation.

But, just like Pia with Dragos, those carefully choreographed interactions were absolutely miserable. Because that is not the way it’s supposed to be between people who are in love and who have built a life together. We are the ones who can be free and uninhibited with each other. We can be ourselves with no fear of reprisal or rejection. At least that is the way it’s supposed to be. And when it’s not, the world tilts on its axis and everything is skewed. Nothing feels right when my primary relationship is off kilter. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, and I know he feels the same.

But sometimes, like with Pia and Dragos, it takes more than a penny to make things right. It takes time and work to put the pieces back together. And sometimes, some of the pieces might be missing, or damaged. Sometimes, we need to create new pieces to make things whole again. And the hope is that the new edifice will be even better and stronger than the original, and that it will be enhanced by all the extra work.

But the fear is that one or the other builder won’t be up to the task, that one or the other of us won’t have the skill or willingness to do what must be done or that the contractor simply won’t show up for work one day.  Or that a hairline fracture that didn’t seem to be very relevant will turn out to be major defect in a load-bearing wall. And the fear can be corrosive in itself, whispering in my ear that it will all fall apart, so I’d better make contingency plans. But when it comes to relationships that are important to me, I don’t believe in contingency plans. I believe in making like Lindbergh and not planning for failure.  I believe in assuming success and doing what it takes to achieve it.  And I believe in having faith that my partner will do the same.

That doesn’t eliminate the fear, but I’ve always loved the axiom that says courage is fear that has said its prayers. Being afraid doesn’t mean being paralyzed. So I’ll take another cue from Dragos and Pia and take one step at a time in putting it all back together again after Humpty Dumpty has fallen. And because this is a paranormal fairy tale, where everyone gets their HEA, the ending will be different this time, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will get the job done.

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