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*Chapter IV - Cinnamon Flavoured Phoenix*

Whilst wondering through the desert, with the sun burning my skin, I couldn't help but wonder if I could ever outgrow the feeling of numbness, created by the soaring heat. It was a feeling so wicked, attacking my senses and thus, making me unable to think or feel. Will I ever get away from this desert, where nothing dares to grow because it is doomed to failure, with no hope of redemption? In my journey, I saw a flicker of light across the horizon. Perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. A few moments later, there it was again. It cannot be a trick, two times in a row. I found my way towards the ray of light and as I was getting closer to it, I could feel the sand burning my feet. That was no reason to stop so I kept on walking. To my surprise, the source of light was closer to me than it seemed at first.

A couple of steps further, there I was, facing the object I've been looking for: a mirror. I stopped right in front of it and stared bluntly. Another masquerade courtesy of my mind maybe? How else could I explain the fact that the girl in the mirror did not look like me. She had long red hair and crystal blue eyes which reflected innocence and happiness. I also noticed that there was an orange canary standing on her right shoulder. Her skin was pale and immaculate, with no trace of imperfection. As I looked into her eyes, I felt like I knew her. With a childish voice she told me: I taught you how to sing. All of a sudden, I realised how right she was. The girl in the mirror taught me how to sing and I remembered that the best way of dealing with the pain was by singing my heart out, whilst being hospitalised. To be honest, singing wasn't the only thing I learned from her. I smiled and replied: You taught me everything I know. You gave me everything I have at this very moment. The knowledge, the strength needed in order to go forward and most importantly, the amazing people in my life, who have proven to be essential in my existence. You, dear red haired child have sketched the person I am today.

Your determination and way of thinking has led me to approach the situation in a certain way and meet new people who have helped me grow and evolve. They say that the night is young, but so am I, I thought. The stories I have to tell are far from finished, that much I know. On that late October evening, there were a few moments when I had no idea if I would live to see the sun. The night was the darkest of nights I have ever lived to this very moment. I stumbled and crawled because I knew that's what I had to do. There's got to be more to life than this. It cannot be the end. That's what I thought, whilst being surrounded by darkness. Somewhere, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and the sun must rise again once more, like the phoenix rises from its own ashes and boasts into a splendour of fire. Dear red haired child in the mirror, we both know that our story has just begun. You and me, we'll walk along the same path, you shall guide me along the way but to my regret and yours, you can no longer take the lead. Your long red hair burned like the ashes of a phoenix in order for me to rise and continue my journey.

Now, it is I who continues the path of your footsteps. My short hair still carries faded flickers of fire, which testify that we are forever bonded. Through the good and bad, I know you'll stay by my side and you'll give me the power to move forward. There shall be times when I'll fall into darkness once again, but that is part of the healing process, I promise you that I'll find my way back to the light each and every time. In order to heal, positive and negative thoughts have to be in equilibrium. One must not dominate the other one. They shall take turns when it comes to my mind processing thoughts and information. There shall also be moments in which I'll break down in tears and pain, and silence. When that happens, stay with me and allow me to recompose myself and get back on track. Do not judge me for my lowest moments are not something I am proud of, far from it. I show weakness for I am only human. I lose myself only to regain control over my mind and spirit. I allow myself to become comfortably numb so that I am able to continue healing.

My dear child, how could I ever live without you? Since you taught me so much, you love cinnamon to the point when even the slightest scent of this magical flavour gives you goose bumps. It is only natural for me to feel the same when I come across it. It instantly reminds me of the times I spent with my grandmother, back in my place of birth. She used to bake the tastiest of apple pies, with cinnamon in the mix, of course. She would add the spice after shredding the apples and by the time that cake was out of the oven, the entire kitchen was filled with that magical flavour. Those were they days in which I didn't have a care in the world. I would only have to laugh my heart out and enjoy the sunshine. Later on was I to comprehend the fact that cinnamon would also tell me stories of winter back home in Brasov, when I'd roam the streets in the best of company. What can I say? You'll always be the one to keep me forever young even if times are changing and I grow older, day after day. Your red hair will never fade away, that's a promise. I shall always be a red head at heart, even if this time, I might let my hair grow and allow it to shine in its natural haze. Let's try this option and we'll see how it goes.

We've had quite a lot of crossroads in our journey, wouldn't you say, brave child? You've crossed each and every one of them with the firm belief that the best is yet to come. You have also enjoyed every step and lived each moment to the fullest. Now I understand the importance of enjoying the present, no matter how imperfect it is. As soon as this instant is gone, it becomes a fragile streak of golden sand in the hourglass of life. My promise to you is that I shall face each day with the sheer joy that I'm alive, even if it might not be the best of days. I promise that I'll find even the tiniest of reasons to smile. There are moments, out of the blue, in which I cannot help but wonder how the ones who have left way too early are doing. Such small insignificant things trigger so many memories. I like to think of their departure as a state of transition, because such innocent people do not pass away, instead they fade away and transform into angels with the brightest of wings. I shall never forget them and furthermore, I shall never let them fade away from my heart and my mind. I'll keep them alive in my memory and my dreams. I know for a fact that I've been through hell and I'm certain that I'm not the only one.

For me, this was the greatest challenge I've ever had to face and it has made me stronger. I walked through wind, rain and last but not least, fire. After all the pain and sufferance, the spirit of my song remains the same. It is a song I kept singing whilst being hospitalised @ ICU, especially when the golden light of noon filled the room with a feeling of serenity, on those early November days. The best is yet to come, I knew that so well but it was also a challenge to keep reminding myself that. My heart ached and my mind struggled to cope with the situation but for some reason, beyond my understanding, I kept on smiling and more importantly, I kept on fighting and kept on dreaming. Countless avalanches of memories invaded my mind and I saw all the times when we laughed and cried, when our hearts pounded with joy or ached in sadness. We've been on an outstanding journey and I swear that I wouldn't change a single thing. I couldn't do that even if I tried. Words cannot describe how eager I am to start writing the next chapters of our stories together. There shall be good times, along with bad times but what matters to me the most is that we shall be together. I've come to realise how much words can hurt, especially when they are said in delicate situations. Even if there shall be times when I might disappoint someone or vice versa, I promise to gather my strength and focus on a second chance.

This entire chapter of my life has taught me just how important it is to be close to the people I care about. Now tell me, how could I live without you, when you're such an important part of my existence?

You – the two people to whom I owe the fact that I exist in this world

You – my best of friends, whom I've known for the past 10 years and counting You – my lovely ladies, who have given me the strength and power to go forward

You – my dear friend, who has encouraged me to explore the field of psychology

You – my travelling friend, with your brave heart and courage to follow your dreams

You – amazing artists who have brought me joy when you visited me and we sung together

You – who has reminded me about the soundtrack of my life

You – lovely family who has shown me an infinite amount of affection and also bought me cake

You – exquisite team of doctors, nurses and hospital personal who have put me back together

You – awesome team of creatives who have accepted me with arms wide open You – brilliant gang of photographers who have shown support and made me want to attend more concerts

You – adorable family who has managed to make a certain coffee place feel like home

You – outstanding person whom I've met by chance @ Carturesti Carusel

You – who told me that you'd help each and every one of us and you did so You – who owns an impressive collection of my smiles and watched me cook pancakes

You – kind hearted girl who bought me a teddy bear (its name is Pixel)

You – who call me "Springroll" because you know how much I like Chinese food

You – my black haired angel

You – my dear grandmothers

You – each and every single person who was worried about me, who has taken the time to talk to me, send me messages, get in touch with me.

All you lovely people have gained a crucial part of my heart and you shall have it forever. All I can ask for now, is the opportunity to spend quality time with each of you so that we can create memories to last a lifetime.

You're more than welcome to take my hand, because the best is yet to come. That also includes you, my dear red haired child. Take my hand and let us continue our journey together. As I reached towards you, our hands touched through the mirror and I could feel a slight breeze.

The wind of change surrounded us and by the time I knew it, a sand storm covered the mirror. Moments later, I managed to clean the mirror and this time, when I gazed upon the person reflected, I could see my own self. The red haired child with the cute orange canary on her shoulder was no longer there. Instead, there was a short haired young lady, with scar covered skin. On her right shoulder there was ravishing phoenix, waiting to fly.

*The digital drawing belongs to Christos Karapanos: link here. The song which inspired me to write this fourth chapter is: The Best is yet to come by Scorpions. Cinnamon Flavoured Phoenix is about learning how to rise again after the fire.*

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