My husband and I visited this historic mansion somewhere in Western Washington during our 22nd anniversary trip this year (because I really don't remember names or places all that well as of late). We kept things low key, calm, and soothing from the bed and breakfast nestled in the woods with lake views, a drive that took less than 3 hours from home, and planned a "purposeful purposelessness." It was a sorely needed get-away after a year's worth of heartache, mental illness, and doubt about hope, the divine, and if the creation of humans was ever a good idea.... This was the last weekend we spent together before he returned to work after being on disability for a year due to disabling bipolar depression. He felt ready. I felt he was ready. Neither of us really knew if either of us was ready to face the world again because we knew it would be a long road to becoming whole again for each of us. The journey continues and the load a bit lighter for both of us this summer; we pray that we can bottle all the sunshine we can possibly hold to keep us warm when the inevitable storms of life once again come to pass. Our relationship is stronger than it ever has been before....a strength I thought I knew, but am only just now beginning to scratch the surface. As I was editing pictures from a recent photo shoot with an exceptionally sweet family, I happened to come across the photo above, shot earlier this year. It struck me as such a sharp contrast to all those beaming smiles and tickling toes and laughter from the shoot. And it reminded me of how I felt and still do to a certain extent, about the fragility of the human mind, the need for meaningful relationships, and a bit of sadness in that big beautiful mansion. The owner who gave us a tour of her historic mansion, an older woman who lived alone, filled it with lovely antiques and many family photos of long past with smiling children and grandchildren. The intricate cornice mouldings, corbels, hand-carved tables and chairs, the sculptures and artwork from other countries, the historic bar on the third level frequented by the city's founder - it was all absolutely lovely, but the house felt so empty and my heart ached for the owner. She clearly had vivid memories of time spent with family in this house, but it was unclear if she had any recent tender moments with family. As I was snapping away with my camera, the silence kept filling up the space between antique after antique and became a gnawing question for me.....does she miss herself? The self that lived before life thrust the word "alone" upon her. This picture was begging for a narrative....fictional or not, feelings are real, justified or not, feelings are beyond judging as they are the burden of being human. It is the next step after a feeling that slowly shapes what we are and where we wind up. And this image felt as if its former inhabitants had been swallowed by silence. I am reminded to savor the sounds of life within and around us - something as simple as the sound of breath, even the occasional snoring of my husband; it is proof he is still choosing to live rather than succumb to the numbing silence as sentenced by his mental illness. He refuses to dissolve. And I refuse right along side of him.