I lowered myself into bed, noting the crispness of the newly cleaned sheets. They felt cool on my weary and achey body. It had just begun to rain outside. The rain came hard and fast and angry. I like the rain. I’ve always liked the rain. We had half a glass left of the Bandol Rosé from the previous night, which was just the right amount for me to sip until my body decided to give up and allow me to sleep. I put on the remaining 30 minutes of a subpar Gary Marshall movie I’d been working on for days, and dipped my sleepy head back onto the pillow propped up behind me. It smelled like cotton blossoms. My favorite part of Sunday sleep. My hair was still damp from the bath, my body still warm from the heat of the water. I took my first sip of wine. It was cold on my tired throat. It felt like medicine to my mind.
The day had been long, the week had been confusing, the month had been complicated. I seemed to have lost all control over my life and surroundings, and had become a day player in what used to be my show. I had lost Power. And Power is what I thrive on.
My husband lay next to me, already asleep. He does that well. Right as I raised the glass to my lips for another taste, the house went dark and quiet. The angry rain had quickly turned into a thunderstorm and took the Power with it. I lept to my feet, husband behind me, and dashed downstairs to grab the iPads.
This is the part where you need to know we are a family of sound machines. We rely on white noise to let us sleep. Sound machines rely on electricity. We currently had none. The children were seconds away from waking up due to the eery and abrupt silence. Then the fright of the stark darkness would be soon to follow. We have a system whenever the power goes out, and it always involves running for the iPads and scrolling to find the app that makes the white noise. It’s a quiet dance my husband and I have been doing for years.
First into the hallway was our oldest- our son. He was fine, just awake and a little puzzled. I tucked him back in, iPad on the floor beside him, raised his blinds a bit, kissed his forehead and cracked his door. I grabbed the other iPad and headed into my daughter’s room. Her door was swollen from the humidity of the day and made a loud noise when I pressed it open. I didn’t know if she was awake. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. It was dark, I couldn’t see my hand in front of me. I placed the iPad at her bedside, raised her blinds to allow the moonlight to shine through and then crept out, leaving the door open behind me.
I crawled back into bed and heard her sob. She’s afraid of the dark. I went to her. I held her. I tucked her back in. I left. She sobbed. I repeated the above. I carried her down the hall into our bed. We snuggled for a bit, she agreed to try her bed again.
I held her. I tucked her back in. I left. She sobbed.
I soothed her. She stopped crying. But every time I turned to walk away in the dark, she sobbed and cried out for me.
I carried her and her stuffed penguin down the hall into my bed again. She laid directly on top of me- a tiny, bony blanket. Her head rested in my left arm pit, her left arm moving about trying to find a home, and my chin rested on a stuffed penguin. She kept reaching out to feel my face, I think making sure I was still there with her. At one point she pinched my nose closed. I cannot explain the motivation behind that move. She would sit up at times and look around, get scared of the darkness surrounding her, and I would pull her back down to my bare chest and whisper in her ear that I was here. She was safe because I was here. I brushed her hair with my fingers, I kissed her head. I let her wander and go where she needed to go on my body in order to feel safe.
Holding her like that made me think of all the times she, and her older brother, slept upon that same bare chest. Hearing and feeling her breath in my ears again felt like a dream. The smell of her skin felt like home. She seemed so small again, and yet so very grown. She struggled to find a comfortable spot on my body, one that would allow the noises in her head to dissipate. I know the feeling. I had been trying to turn off the noises in mine for months now. Sleep has never been easy for me, but these past few months they’ve been almost impossible. Because of the noise. A noise that not even the iPads could drown out.
At times she would stroke my arm, as if she knew I too needed comfort. I think perhaps I needed her there with me as much as she needed me. And I noticed, while lying beneath my daughter, that she, like me, sleeps the way she talks- in random spurts and without general purpose. I wondered if there was a scientific link to such things. I made a mental note to google that in the morning.
Finally we reached a point where we both knew nobody would be sleeping like this, so I took her back to her bed and sat with her for awhile. By that time, the darkness had taken on a different color of grey. She was ok now. I was able to walk away without her sobbing and chasing after me.
I checked on my son, and lowered myself back into my bed. I was finally able to fall asleep when the power came back on. It was a loud burst of white noise and clocks blinking. Before I could touch the floor with my feet, my daughter was back in my room, sobbing. She too had fallen asleep. She was scared again. I carried her back to bed, closed her blinds, kissed her goodnight and left. I checked on my son again. He was awake. I lowered his blinds, kissed him goodnight and left. I went back to sleep.
I was startled awake again by my daughter at my bedside, telling me she didn’t like her clock blinking. I fixed it. I went back to sleep.
I was startled awake again by my daughter who simply wanted me to stay with her. I did.
My daughter woke up today with barely a recollection of last night’s occurrences. I woke up without sleep. That means I did my job.
The thing about Power is that we can get used to having it. It feels good. It feels right. It feels… Power-ful. And then when it gets taken away, you can get used to that too. That’s been what I’ve been struggling to do these past few months- get used to the fact that I haven’t the Power over everything I wish I did. I’ve been able to let go of that a bit, it’s been difficult, but something I’ve been learning to do. Then something will happen and challenge that, and make the process start all over again.
So maybe last night was a metaphor for my life right now. Maybe it was a lesson, or a sign. More Power was taken away from me, without any notice, right when I had begun to enjoy a moment. That’s been my life this summer- thriving on those tiny moments of joy, and relishing in the Power it fuels me with, before something, someone, comes and takes it away again. Or maybe it was just a signal telling me to remember that I can take anything. I was built to be strong. I was built to withstand the heavy rainfall and the thunder and the lighting. I was made to hold the weight of a scared human. I have been trained to survive on little to no sleep. I can take this.
Because, I’m here aren’t I? I may be weathered a bit from this summer storm, but I am still here.
(Wanna read about the last time I wrote about a power outage 5 years ago? HERE ya go.)
I’ll be back with a recipe really soon. Promise. It’ll be for a pie I made that I’m very excited to share with you once I finish editing the photos. But for now, I’m going to go create a tiny moment of joy.