Ever find yourself suddenly awake, but not too much so, and you can’t remember where you are? On a trip somewhere and at a relative’s house or a hotel when you wake up and a brief feeling of panic sets in until you orient yourself as to where you are?
Ever Afraid Of The Dark?
Tuck your head under the covers to get away, to hide from some unknown monster, real or imagined, lurking over you, hot breath on your neck, your cheek? Perhaps keeping the door open just a bit to keep you aware and connected to others in other parts of the house? Perhaps a nightlight, safe and friendly, to reassure you that all is well, to help you find your way should you wake up in the dark?
Todd was a student of mine many, many years ago. Tough life. A life he never spoke to others about. Well, at least not too many others. A ninth grader. Oldest of three, with a younger brother and an even younger sister. Lived in an apartment with his parents. Didn’t have much, but didn’t complain. Never heard him complain. Never.
Todd always kept his door open with a nightlight on in the hallway. Always. All of the time he was in high school.
Todd wasn’t Afraid Of The Dark. At least, not for himself. Mostly, he was afraid for his younger brother and sister. Afraid for them.
Most nights, especially on weekends, Todd’s father would come home drunk, usually late at night, and find some reason to beat up his wife, Todd’s mother. She would distract him, while Todd would scramble to his brother’s and sister’s rooms, gather them up, and together, they would hide under one of the beds. Todd would hold them, whisper to them, protect them. The youngest might fall asleep. Perhaps the younger brother. But not Todd. Not until all was safe. Not until Todd was sure his brother and sister were safe. Because after his father tired of his mother, he would seek out Todd or Todd’s brother or sister.
Afraid Of The Dark.
Who knows what might linger in the dark for us . . . for others. Who knows what monster might be out there waiting, lurking with hot breath on our neck, our cheek. Who knows how many sleepless nights there are for those around us. Worries of bills piling up and not enough money to pay them off. Worries about a college-aged son or daughter and what choices . . . what chances . . . they might make, might have. Worries about the health of a loved one . . . a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a parent. Worried about their own health . . . impending death . . . and how that might impact their own loved ones.
Afraid Of The Dark.
Many reasons why there might be a nightlight in the room, in the hallway. Many reasons why one pulls the covers over one’s head. To hide. To protect. And, there are many whose lives are not as ordered, not as safe, not as protected as ours might be. Eating lunch next to us. Answering the phone as you call to complain. Sitting at the desk next to you. In the room down the hall. Sitting at the desk in front of you. Walking down the hallway alone, with shoulders hunched, silently waging a battle you might not ever know about, might not ever understand. But very much Afraid Of The Dark. Very much so. Something to think about . . .