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I recently spent 5 weeks in Florida in a residential facility for people who have experienced trauma and suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD. I met the most wonderful men and women there; survivors of unthinkable traumas who, despite it all, were still standing. I was so fortunate to become close to many of these men and women, and the bonds that were created between us helped me heal in ways that I could never even imagine. I wrote the following piece as a tribute to these friends and to the unbreakable bonds of friendship that can quite literally save a person's life. It is night. Impenetrable darkness thicker than cotton engulfs you as you frantically struggle to find your way. The blackness around you seems foreign and foreboding, causing your heart to beat wildly and chills to dance a steady waltz on your back. Your movements are frantic but purposeful as you propel your body forward into the unknown, determined to find your way. You reach out, desperate to find a tree to lean on or a stump to rest your aching body on. But there is only the impervious night, stretched out in front of you like a dare. You are lonely, so lonely, and afraid, so terribly afraid. Branches snap sharply under your feet, startling your already terrified heart, and for the millionth time that minute, you find yourself wishing you could give up, lie on the frozen ground, and let yourself go. But instead you continue on: stumble, trip, fall and rise, stumble, trip, fall, and rise- a morbid dance that never seems to stop. Until one moment, when instead of rising, you find yourself falling further and further into an abyss, as if you are being pulled down by an imperceptible weight. Your body feels heavier than its usual immensity, as it pulls you lower and lower until rock bottom becomes a terrifying certainty. You shout a desperate prayer to whomever or whatever you believe is out there, “I can’t do this any longer! Help me! Don’t let me fall!” as you concede to yourself that your situation can only get worse. And then it happens. At that very moment when you have officially let go, that moment when you brace yourself to hit rock bottom, a miracle occurs. A flock of gorgeous angels ventures towards you, each angel a different color and size, unique in her own beautiful way. As the flock approaches, you begin to notice that your body feels suddenly lighter, less exhausted and less painful. "You can do it," you hear them whisper intensely, "we're here for you." And just as your body grazes the bottom of the abyss, you repeat their mantra, "I can do it, and they are here for me." To your delight and astonishment, the moment you finish the last word, a set of wings, fiery yellow and stunningly bright burst from behind, and you begin to fly up, weightless and secure. The pure light of friendship and belonging guides your way as you fly off with your new flock, not completely healed, but certain of one thing: you are no longer alone.

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