My novel A River in the Ocean explores many themes like family and loss, but it’s delivered with comedic tones and riveting scenes. One of the interesting aspects of the book is how Chris Ferlin built himself a slice of heaven from nothing.
Chris had been in a really bad accident that landed him in a coma for nine years. After waking up, he had to struggle through amnesia to remember even his own name. It wasn’t easy. But once he was able to do that, he could begin putting his life back together, which started with finding himself a place to live.
He had a little help from a social worker who went above and beyond to find out information about him, and she even acted as his real estate agent for a moment to find him an old country home that was for sale. She knew some people who knew some people, so she introduced him to the place. The owner was an elderly lady whose family had to place her in a nursing home. They were motivated to sell, and once he saw it, he fell in love with it. It was a fixer-upper, and he could relate to that.
While he struggled to put his life back together, his house became a therapeutic project to him, as well as the broken furniture he found inside. Little by little, he refurbished chairs and dressers, even the bed he found in an upstairs bedroom.
But the outside needed his attention too, and working with wood just seemed to come naturally to him. Somehow, his past life was reaching through his memory slice by slice to remind him of certain things. His love of art manifested itself as he picked up painting as a hobby. His ability to build came through in furniture design but also in how he handled the reconstruction of this old house that had been abandoned years ago.
While his daughter was being raised by a quirky couple on the other side of town and he had no idea she existed, he was working on himself. One project at a time, the house started to become a home, and in much the same way, he was finding himself as well.
The dusty living room that hadn’t seen life in years was now a comfortable space where he could proudly accept guests. The only thing he needed was the people who would fill it. No one in his past life knew he was alive because they had lost contact with him years ago, and he certainly didn’t know who they were.
The kitchen came to life and once the coffee started brewing, it almost became his favorite part of the home. His imagination would often take over and soon, he was being visited by a little girl he would eventually call Angel. She would come and go as she wished, and it was in the most unexpected times.
The first time she visited, she was four. But this spirit that was haunting him, even while he was awake, progressed to the age of thirteen in a very short time. Every time she visited, he would paint her. He painted her at various stages throughout her life as if he were capturing it for a portfolio. But it wasn’t something he ever wanted to share with anyone. He kept those paintings hidden in a secret room while his landscapes and abstracts were being sold to art enthusiasts worldwide.
Angel became so real to him that he gave her a room and built her a dollhouse that he placed in the center of it. Even though she was just in his imagination and he was fully aware of that, she was the only one he had to hold onto for the time. So, he completed the house for the two of them.
A complete transformation from being broken down to having a brand new life, it was what he was going through as well. He had started off lost and broken himself. As he found his way out of the darkness, more things about his life started to come to him, like the fact that he had a daughter. Now, all he needed to do was find her.
His slice of heaven would not be complete until she was a part of it. But the river that runs through us all and connects us is the hope that he held onto that he would one day find her, and they would be reunited.
A River in the Ocean – He didn’t know he was looking, and she didn’t know she needed found.