Friday, November 14, 2014

That First Night Home Alone, Part 2

  I stood there at the end of my hallway thinking "you have GOT to be kidding me! I asked for ONE f***ing thing tonight!" But, regardless of my begging for power, I lost my power. The electricity in my home and in my soul. The house fell so silent, ironically, it was deafening. You never really realize how much noise your house makes until the power clicks off. I could hear every single noise outside. I was suddenly hyper aware of the weather, the darkness, the stillness and how vulnerable I was standing there alone. Actually, I was worse off than alone. I was responsible for two little people. If something happened, I would have to save them AND myself. I had to consider them into any survival plan. A much bigger task than saving myself.

 My mind started to get the best of me and I started imagining danger. There was only a door between me and the outside. There are something like 20 points of entry in my home if you factor all windows and doors. I imagined bad men hiding in my flower garden waiting to catch me off guard. I could hear the wind ripping branches off of trees, the rain beating sideways on my windows. I could hear distant voices outside, though I still don't know why someone would have been outside during that storm. My sadness was replaced with fear and I felt like I was living out some horror movie. I was sure my phone was about to ring and tell me "the call is coming from inside the house."  My dog started to growl at every little sound. I wanted to shush him so he wouldn't wake the girls, but I was glad to at least have a dog there to bark (attack?!), should my fear of the imaginary boogie-man come true. It was so dark I had to use the light of my cell phone to make my way around the house looking for candles and flashlights. I managed to find 1 working flashlight, 1 small candle, and 1 big candle. I made my way back to my bedroom and curled up in my bed and lit my candles, placing them next to me on the nightstand. I did what anyone without power would do... got on Facebook on my cell phone. I derived some level of comfort from that until Harper started to stir, and I assumed it had to be because their sound machines weren't on. So, I pulled up the sound machine app on my phone and turned it all the way up, placed it in the hallway floor between the girls' two bedrooms. They should have the last remaining comfort in the house, not me.

  When I returned to my bed, my thoughts began to race. I started reliving the night in the ER. The beeping machines, the urgency of nurses and doctors rushing in and out of his room. I got mad Jason wasn't there with me and that seemingly incompetent people practice medicine on human lives at Texas Health Presby. And I was scared. I had never been scared to be in my own home. I don't live in a bad area. But I am also a probation officer and am aware of some pretty horrible, real stories of things that really do happen to people. I started to fear for my kids and myself. I am sure this sudden fear and arguably unreasonable anxiety came on because of the totality of the circumstances, combined with being a person who was born a natural worrier. I could hear Harper stirring a little in her room, so I went back and stood in their hallway for a few moments until she was quiet again. I gazed longingly at my brand new cell phone on the floor, a Christmas present from Jason not even 2 months prior. I wished I could waste some brain cells on social media to take my mind off the stillness and the darkness, but I couldn't make myself take away their only source of white noise, hoping it would win over the claps of thunder.

  I felt my way back to my bed, and stared at the candles burning next to me. It wasn't even a scent I liked. I set my focus on that tiny bit of blue at the base of a flame, knowing that is the hottest part of the fire. I imagined being that piece of blue flame, trying to will myself to be a tougher cookie. I got up out of bed with the flashlight and pulled Jason's gun out of its safe place. I put it on the nightstand next to me and decided that if someone comes in my house, I will shoot them. This is Texas, after all. I started playing all the scenarios in my head about how I would hear them and what Jasper would do and how I would get to the girls. I have been told the body cannot go where the mind has never been, so I allowed myself to imagine what I would do and what walls my kids were on the other side of. I decided I needed an alarm system on my home, but I couldn't quite make that happen tonight. Yes, there I sat, poor little me. In a very dark, screamingly silent house, with a stinky candle and a loaded gun. Staring at the wall thru burning tears, waiting for some horrible thing to happen. Is this real life? Have I really lost this much of my security and feelings of comfort and safety? Short answer: yes. Rational thinking and security has left the building. It was stolen. And now I was left a stepped-on flower with broken, torn, and missing petals, barely pushing up through a crack in the concrete.
Slowly the rain died down, but the wind still beat relentlessly on my home. I bundled myself up under the covers, flashlight and Glock in hand, and waited for the power to come back.

  I woke up 3 hours later to Harper's crying and the power had come back on. Random lights were on all through my house and the fans were singing their comforting song, as was my humming refrigerator and the girls' white noise machines. I went to retrieve my cell phone and turn off all the lights on my way to Harper's room, where I sat for another hour rocking her back to sleep. When I got back to my bed, it must have been about 2am or so. I blew out the one candle that still burned and turned off the flashlight that had been on next to me for all those hours. I didn't put the gun back though.

  The next morning my own power had come back, despite my minimal sleep. I managed to calm down and, yes, I put the gun back up before getting the girls out of their cribs. The light of day and clear sky made the previous night of terror seem so silly. It was as if nothing had ever happened there at all. Lila and Harper woke up early and I gave them pancakes, got them dressed, got myself dressed, and packed them up to take to school. This was usually Jason's job and Lila did ask for daddy several times. I told her he was with Jesus, and though some professionals think you should be more "honest" with kids about death (they suggest you tell your child very directly that daddy has died and won't be coming home), I could not tell my 2.5 year old "you will never see your father again in the capacity that you have known him". When your husband dies, you handle it however YOU want. I headed off into rush hour traffic with my large diet coke and sleepy eyes to work to do this all again. But today was a new day and I was NOT going to let it be like yesterday.

  Sllllloooooowly, the days and nights got a little better. I stopped sleeping with my guns right by my head and I called a home security company and they came out promptly and installed a super high tech awesome wireless alarm system on my home. Each door and window, glass break sensors, carbon monoxide detectors, motion sensors, wireless fire detection, and cameras... the whole nine, all of which can be monitored by my phone. That at least provided me with some comfort and a warning if someone opens a door. Not that you are inadequate, Jasper! Forgive me.
I no longer spend each night trying to lasso my kids all alone. I have help from people who love me and I cannot stress enough that I DO NOT DO THIS ALL ALONE. I have help. Anyone in my position would need help. If you are in my position, take the help. Take the love. Make new relationships. Let your kids love people.

Love, a flashlight, and a Smith & Wesson,

Batting practice with Sara at Ashley's house. Gotta earn that college scholarship!

My littlest ghost at a birthday party.

Harper was Elsa for Halloween. I made her dress, which is impressive since I am un-crafty.
And Lila was Anna. I am well aware these aren't original costume ideas, but they weren't sold on Susan B. Anthony and Malala Yousafzai this year.

Trick or treating. Yes we go early so we can make it home in time to pass out candy. That is really my fave part.

Pumpkin patch trip

Harper guarding the sandbox at the fall festival. She yelled at anyone who dared pass.

Lila consuming her yearly intake worth of sugar in one sitting at a dance birthday party.

Lila wanted to sleep in my bed, so she gets to. She won't always be little.


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