Date Published: 3/2/21
Publisher: FinnStar Publishing
"There's a guy. He was hit by a truck."
On a rainy November day, Mia Hayes' husband left for work on his Vespa. Normally, she would have driven him, but Mia was waiting on a phone call with an editor and didn't have time.
She never saw that caring, loving version of her husband again.
The fallout from his accident--Mia's guilt and her husband's PTSD, memory loss, and depression--consumed their lives over the next five years as her laid-back husband changed into an angry man with few memories of their past. Desperate to hold her fragile family together, Mia ignored her own unraveling and plunged into bipolar depression.
As she searched for answers to unanswerable questions, Mia moved her family from San Francisco to Paris, France before landing in a leafy Washington, D.C. suburb where she tried to find a fresh start only to become embroiled in a scandal of her own making.
Through ups and downs, mental illness and bad decisions, Mia struggled with what it means to be a good wife and mother, whether saving her marriage was worth the pain, and understanding that healing is a personal journey.
Always Yours, Bee is a heartbreaking yet triumphant and brave look at a woman, a marriage, and a family falling apart and coming out stronger. Told with clarity and introspection, it captures the terror of losing the person closest to you—yourself.
Those early days in Paris weren’t all miserable. Sometimes, James and I would walk miles and miles, talking and sorting through things. We’d stop and admire street art, pop into a museum, or just enjoy people watching while sitting at a café. My life was in emotional turmoil, but at least I had the steady rhythm of Paris to soothe me.
I snapped pictures of bridges and James snapped pictures of me posing by the shimmering Seine or with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I uploaded the pictures to my blog and Facebook page and created a narrative around our new life where everything was amazing. How could it not be? We were on an extended break in the most romantic city on earth.
As we walked back to my apartment after dinner one night, we heard the booming bass of a pop concert and decided to find the source of the music. It sounded like it was coming from Hôtel de Ville, the sixteenth-century town hall where free community events were often held. But as we followed the music, we wove through narrow, twisting streets, away from the Seine, and toward the 11th arrondissement.
Next to a small, gated park, a crowd gathered around a stage where a band banged out French pop music. Bottles of wine were passed around the crowd and poured into plastic cups, and cigarette smoke hung heavy in the air. The crowd was made up of all ages from toddlers to the elderly, and James and I squeezed into the middle of it.
James grabbed my hand and spun me around. “Want to dance?”
We swayed to the music, his arms wrapped around me, until the song changed.
James pointed at a small shop. “I’m going to get a bottle of wine.”
I waited next to a bench and watched the crowd grow. The band wasn’t bad, and I asked a guy next to me who they were. He explained that a local radio station was hosting the free event to help new artists gain exposure. I loved that about Paris. Everywhere we went, there was free music or art or simply culture.
When James returned carrying two plastic cups and an uncorked bottle of wine in a brown bag, I told him the name of the band. He handed me the cups and poured generously. Sultry, July heat swirled around us as we laughed, drank, and danced. At one point, I threw my arms around James’s neck. He smiled at me as if to say, “See? It can be great again.”
And I wanted to believe that. I wanted us to be okay.
Then the music ended and the stage lights dimmed, and James and I were just standing on a street with a bunch of other people. I stared at my beaming husband, the one who had willingly hurt me, and my chest tightened. The magic that had briefly whisked me past the pain had evaporated, leaving the bleakness of reality behind. I knew, in the dusky Paris twilight, that we couldn’t keep pretending away our pain. We had to go through it.
About the Author
Mia is a notorious eavesdropper who lives in Northern Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband, sons, two cats, and Harlow the Cavapoo.
She drinks too much green tea, loves traveling, and has mastered the art of procrastination cleaning.
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