Growing up I was afraid of the dark.
It was bad.
If it was my turn to feed the cats after dark, I was a nervous wreck, certain that someONE or someTHING was out there waiting to “get” me. Even the flashlight did not ease my worries. As I got a little older I grew to appreciate the moon and stars and enjoyed gazing, but I still didn’t venture too far from the back stoop, within an easy dash to safety. And my Daddy, whom I was sure could take care of anything that came along.
So it was ironic that I roomed with my sister who loved the dark. We’re talking pitch black. If I even tried reading with a flashlight under the covers, she was not happy. I could not relax in the dark enough to go to sleep, so I would beg her to let me leave the hall light on and crack our door. Mama and Daddy would turn off the lights when they went to bed anyway. She usually put her foot down, but there were nights she’d be so tired, she’d acquiesce and I could fall asleep in peace.
Oh the nights when Mama and Daddy turned in early and they turned off all the lights in the house. Those were hard. The darkness held an unknown factor in it, and that is what I was afraid of. What I didn’t know. What could be out there. What might be. My mind would crank up, and some nights it was hard to shut it down.
I don’t remember when things changed, but now I find it hard to sleep if there are any lights on in my room. There can be an extraneous light from the kitchen or living room that might send a ray or two into the room and I will probably be okay. But if there is a lamp or booklight or phone lit up, I find it difficult to sleep. Wouldn’t Sister find that poetic justice? I haven’t had the nerve to tell her, after the hard time I gave her all those years.
So yes, I like to sleep in a dark room. Winter or summer, air conditioning or heat, it seems to me if a light is on in a room, it is hot. I find comfort sleeping in the dark.
But I am still afraid of the dark.
This occurred to me early in the wee hours of this morning. Miss Sophie had her “female” surgery yesterday, and I stayed up with her making sure she was comfortable and could sleep. While we cuddled, I read a few stories on the internet, and it hit me as I settled down for the night about 2:00 a.m., I am still very much afraid of the darkness.
First I read the article about the shooting in the FedEx in Atlanta yesterday morning. And I did what I do when faced with the Darkness. It’s automatically what I do for comfort, like my nephew who rubs a corner of his shirt or my niece who sucks her thumb.
I immediately went through a checklist in my mind–how can I be sure not to be caught in this Darkness? How can I keep this from happening to me? How far removed am I from what happened?
I know. Sad, right?
I mean, my heart goes out to those affected. And I want to cry. But then those old anxieties at the unknown and uncertainties kick in and I’m trying to make sure somehow that I won’t be caught out in the dark.
Then later I came across this article.
What?! Two weeks? How had I missed this story? Was it not getting coverage? Or was I just in my own little world?
Oh the tears. Those poor young women. Seeking an education. A different way of life.
And it hit me–
How is it possible that we, these young women and I, are living on the same planet? This past Saturday while I celebrated with other women who attended our all women’s college and honored our heritage–one that began in 1836–these young women were going through unknown terrors at the hands of their enemies in a land far away.
And yet not so far away really.
It makes me think again, wondering how I wound up here and they wound up there. There are no words, no explanations.
And through my tears, I realized that I am still very much afraid of the Dark. The Darkness in this world that is responsible for things like this happening.
As I went to my old soothing standby to calm my anxiety–my running through my checklist of–can this happen to me? Or, am I safe from this?–I realized it has happened to me. All of these things of the darkness, they are happening to me. To all of us.
I’ve shared this one before, but it came to my mind and heart again this morning.