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With Each Change, Their Love Continued to Grow

  • September 22, 2021

In August, Ms. Brashears had top surgery. There were more stitches, more bruising and more recovery paired with less space. The walls started to close in for everyone.

November brought cold weather, Zoom overload, burnout and depression.

“We hadn’t left our home for months,” Ms. Brashears said. “We couldn’t see friends or students. I had been in bed for months because of the surgeries. It was claustrophobic. It started to feel like jail. There were moments when we both thought, ‘How will we get through the next few months?’”

Mr. Schneier was in a bad place, too. He had to stop taking his depression medication because of high blood pressure, and now needed a cane to walk because of his back injury. Also, “there were a lot of laws happening about trans people, and that was terrifying,” he said.

Then came the fire pit. Mr. Schneier’s neighbor’s ordered one. He did the same.

“We were freezing, but we would sit outside, bundled up in clothing with a Russian babushka on my head, and forage for wood,” Ms. Brashears said. They would tell jokes and listen to music, and simply enjoy each other’s company. They found, as Ms. Brashears put it, “a way to reconnect.”

Mr. Schneier said converging around the fire pit “was the first magical moment we’d had in a long time. A few friends and employees came over. Our home became the place people would go to on the weekends. We found affection and love in the world again.”

In March 2021 chin surgery helped lift Ms. Brashear’s mood, while lessening back pain, new medications and supplements lifted Mr. Schneier’s. The shift in the political landscape was also a shared enhancer.

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