© Copyright 2007
Barbara Jeans IP, LLC
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It was an almost frigid, far deeper, more sinister fear than anything I ever experienced in my two combat tours in Vietnam. In combat, the one time I was certain I was going to die, it came with a sense of inevitability, a finality that would provide its own form of mysterious relief from whatever it was I was feeling then. But this, this I knew would bring an endless sense of loss, grief beyond any rational measure and guilt because I had finally really failed. Some of it was selfishness, but the one thought that was truly tormenting me was that I had failed her and, worse, the kids she paid such an unbelievable price to bring into a happy and secure world. She always told me, time and time again, no matter what, to keep them safe. ?You have to take care of my beautiful babies. I promised, but now I was sure I had failed.
They had found her car and I was racing south on Interstate 95 a couple miles north of the Georgia-Florida border to meet them. My mind was shuddering between memories, my fear, and how I was going to handle the kids. Yeah, they were adults now, but they are our kids, the very ones I repeatedly promised her I would protect. This was the second time in about five years, and the third one overall, and I was sure we couldn’t be that lucky again. No, not this time ? not a chance.
My wife is an incredibly strong person. She has the kind of courage that would make the Marines I served with proud. Yes, she has the heart of a lioness but, better, the soul of a saint. Still, she is human and her humanity means vulnerability, and sometimes that is expressed in an almost pathological need to share, to help anyone who is where she has so often been. She has asked me to tell you about this because she knows she is not alone in her struggle, and she wants everyone fighting the same battle to know it can be won. She has been suffering from clinical depression her entire adult life, and living with me has never made it easier. Still, she wants anyone who will listen to know that depression is a disarmingly subtle, terrifying disease that turns good into bad, and bad into hopeless, but it can be treated!
I mentioned “luck” a little earlier. I know better. For reasons I can never explain, a song was playing in my car as I neared that exit on I-95. I don?t think I even knew the radio or CD player was on. I will never forget the message that song delivered. It had a simple refrain, “God keeps sending me angels just like you.” I don’t know why, but when I heard it, I knew she was safe, that I would find her and she would be OK. Call it whatever you want, but I knew who the message was from and what it meant. She was still safe, but I had to find her. When I got there, the police told me they had checked everywhere — nothing. She must have left the car and somehow vanished. Their natural cynicism was showing but I couldn’t blame them. I was looking for a wife who had disappeared, and her car was found in a motel parking lot. You can read volumes into that. I didn’t need to. She was there, somewhere, and I had to find her. Yes, and you already know this, I did. It took some time and the details are unimportant. Why? Simple! The guidance I was getting had nothing to do with me, my so-called intellect, determination or anything like that. I simply somehow knew where and how to look. It?s your call from there. She had taken a room, used an assumed name, paid cash, and was trying to kill herself. I found her.
Barbara said I could write about this because she cares in a way that too few people do. We talked about it a lot. To her, and she?s right, this is not a story about anything other than hope. She has been there more than once. She?s not embarrassed, and if you suffer from depression, or a loved one does, or a friend, or you simply suspect it could be true with a person you know, she wants to you to grab them and do whatever it takes to convince them there is more than hope. There is a cure!
If you read this, and you see Barbara, tell her I love her, and add one other thing. I am very, very proud of her.
St. Simons Island, Georgia