Once, while I was watching a group of cows take careless steps through a Virginia field, my sister stood outside and watched the lights of fire engines spin across the walls of a neighbor’s house as it burned for hours three hundred miles away from my sadness. It was another sign of her madness growing worse. I was unaware. Some crows perched on fence posts near where I stood, and ours was a different sort of vigil. Cows filed past our lines of vision, heeding the calls of the distant farmer beyond our sights. Up on that mountain, the dark summer nights seemed wholly starless, nurtured my sadness. And I spent most days there looking at walls, searching for words and, in the evening, cows. I’d lean on a fencepost and scan the field. Everything, nothing on my mind for hours. Some say that all families are broken. Ours broke so slowly it was like seeing lights fade in the distance as you left. It failed under the weight of my sister’s madness. I felt like I belonged there with the crows on that remote mountain. My mother’s calls filled my answering machine. Darkness falls quickly in those mountains, overcomes hours of daylight in seconds. Slow-moving cows disappear in front of your eyes. Those nights I could close my eyes and escape sadness if I tried hard, escape into a field of absence, like a sheep outside the fold. I’ve spent most of my life evading walls and the rest of it avoiding madness. Now I love a woman who loves me. Ours is a full joy that very rarely lights on any life. I left behind the crows and the cows and my family. Have I fooled myself, or really shed endless nights, walls, and those hours, whole days, devoured by sadness?