Thursday, May 5, 2011

When darkness falls

I've never been one that was afraid of the dark. I can remember packing two or three face masks with me when I left for my first year of college. Every night, I would turn off every light I could, put a face mask on, put my little satchel of lavender junk over the face mask and go to sleep.

When John and I first married, we would have many late night "quarrels" over darkness. He would get up to get a drink, go to the bathroom, or eat a bowl of cereal at 3 am (who does that?)- and LEAVE the lights ON. I'm talking the hall light, the dining room light, the kitchen light. He could be as quiet as a mouse and yet still wake me up because of all the bright lights! He'd come back in our room and I'd remind him to turn off the lights and he'd always say" but I'm already back in bed!." It became a little joke with us...."John can sleep on a dime, Michelle needs the home sublime."

Then came Gracie. I was in the hospital with her for three nights, because I had a rough birth, they made me stay that extra night. Then the most unnatural thing in the world happened- we went home and left our beautiful baby behind. I can remember walking in the door that first night, and walking around our tiny upstairs apartment. The first thing I did was gather all of the phones we owned and put them on the stand in front of me. I was not allowed to sleep in my own bed for two weeks, because they didn't want me rolling. So, to the couch I went, feet propped up and the house phone, my cell phone, and John's cell phone right in front of me. John would sleep in the uncomfortable chair or on the floor in front of me, just to be in the same room. That first night, I got as comfortable on the couch as I could and John walked through the house and turned lights off. He got to the last lamp, at the end of my feet, and I started to hyperventilate. I mean, full out, breathe in a paper bag, hyperventilate. "Turn it back on, turn it back on!!" I cried/yelled to John. He turned it on and sat down on the couch with me. I curled up next to him, and fell asleep crying, clutching the phone in my hand. Thus began my fear of the dark. From that night forward, I have slept with some sort of light on. It doesn't need to be a bright light, or even a night light....just some kind of light. Darkness fell on me in that moment, and I allowed it to have it's very grip on me for quite some time. I remember the very moment that I realized I was in his power. We had left Gracie for the evening nursing switch, and I couldn't find my parents. (We sold our car 2 days before she was born. We had planned to buy a new one, but then we just didn't have the time.) They were going to take us home. I called my mom's cell, and she didn't answer. I was sure that something had happened, the nurses couldn't get through to my cell, and so they had called my mom. Completely irrational thinking, I realize. I stood there in that parking lot and BEAT on my poor husband. Just like something you see in a movie. He stood there and took it, and when I finally got it all out, he held me tight as I cried and cried. Then we saw the lights of the car, coming toward us- I looked up and felt blinded. I'd like to say I won a victory in that moment, but I did not. My daughter's entire NICU stay was one struggle after another, and many times, I allowed the darkness to win in my heart.
                                               To be continued....

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