She eased up to the edge of the cliff. She looked down and could see no bottom, which seemed to mirror her inability to envision any hope for herself. She paused…..

What…what should I do? She prayed. She was so confused and scared at that point she couldn’t even remember her name. The only words she heard came from behind and removed by only days.

Are you stupid?

I’ll teach you!

Don’t give me a hard time!

And the sting of punches that delivered rejection as well as pain; as if it was acceptable had she only been what they wanted her to be.

I can’t do this anymore. She looked up to the sky in hope of some deliverance, but no hand reached down and no voice spoke to soothe her abject hatred of herself nor ease her pain.

And she jumped.

No bright lights. No welcome home. Just a long horrific plummet into a miserable life in limbo. Unable to speak. Unable to breathe. Smothered into a less than half-existence as the time moved so slowly.

Glimpses of self only to be whisked away by caring if unknowing hands and words.

Time dragged on… and on.

She noticed she was on a ledge. The temptation came immediately to finish the job she had started, but something beckoned her attention upward. She could see the edge of the cliff; far and almost unreachable. Turning her head, she saw the same clouds covering her view of the chasm below.

As tired as she was… As hurt as she was. As discouraged as she was, the long climb became less daunting with the first thought of survival. The pain that beckoned from above still was better than the unknown below. So she climbed. And climbed.

And each inch purchased by bloodied hands and broken feet seemed to give her strength. Instead of tiring, she was growing stronger and braver and more secure. Yard after yard she rose, passing milestones of pain that lost their power over her as she passed them in her ascent.

She continued to climb. Losses and sadness and grief that would have daunted her before became reminders that served to make determination grow; the marks and scars and memories losing their hold on her as they grew smaller.

She heard voices from above.

You can do this. I know you can.

You mean too much to me!

I’m proud of you.

Words that were almost completely foreign to her gave her the courage to continue even though everything within her wanted to give up. Heartened by trust and hope and love and friendship from ones she had never met. Words of clarity and caring from some she would never meet. Words that helped her see the strength and courage she had all along.

She reached the top. The grass seemed to go on forever with trees and bushes and glorious clouds above. The voices still beckoned but no one was in sight. Encouragement still came from far off. Love and hope called from beyond shining seas and from places close at hand. One day along the way, somewhere along the journey, those voices would speak to her face to face.

She turned and looked at the chasm. The clouds seemed to float below her and the bottom was invisible. It still beckoned, but the voice from beneath held no rein. She remembered sisters and brothers and mothers and sons and fathers and daughters who had leaped into the unknown without return.

She knelt at the cliff’s edge and kissed the ground in blessing for her health and life. She wept for the ones who never had the strength to walk away from the headlong fall and the ones who never had the strength to rise again like her. The ones whose lives were filled with deafening silence or shouts of scorn. The ones whose lives had perhaps not a single voice to love and care.

She stood and turned again. The grassy field seemed to rise before her; stretching out and up for miles. Distant voices called across the plain and beckoned. She smiled even as the pain waned and her resolve grew. The journey had only just resumed and was far from over. But it was a journey she knew she would finish.

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