Dark Days

I burrow deeply back into my bed as the sun shines through the shaded slats of my bedroom window. My husband left for work many hours ago. Yet here I lie. I’m not sleeping. I’m really not even particularly tired. I am just lacking enough stamina to get out of bed.

I roll over so the sun is shining on my back and pretend there is no reason for me to move from this position. Time passes. I feel eventually I will regret these wasted minutes. Won’t I want them back at some point?

I feel my cat’s mental telepathy reaching out to me from the other room. “What are you doing in there? Get up already. I have a long list of complaints that I want to grouchily meow about. I can’t properly shun you if you don’t try to pet me.”

“Okay,” I rearrange the covers as I am still lying under them. I smooth them from underneath and sneak off the mattress to the side so as not to disturb the smooth sheets and blankets. Easy representatives of an orderly personality.

It is not just the cat’s telepathy I hear calling from the other room. It is the attention-demanding existence of the newspaper on the kitchen table. I can practically hear it rustling while I brush my teeth and throw on some sweats.

The cat may be waiting to scold me, but the news is just waiting. It does not need to actively complain. Its very existence makes me feel worse than the scoldings of many cats.

The front page screams with the latest story of terrifying senseless violence.

I can’t understand these stories. We, who are rational, caring people will never understand this. I can understand sometimes people are so overwhelmed with despair that they feel compelled to escape their own pain by taking their own lives.

I can understand that sometimes individuals who experience their lives as so arduous they no longer have the strength to continue living. But I can never understand the reasoning or desire to take other people along with them.

I guess they are in so much pain, so twisted and empty that only by causing pain to others can they briefly feel anything.

But I don’t care.

Thirty-five years ago I had a conversation about the uncertainties of life with a young undergraduate student.

He explained his theory of life and death in a very fatalistic way. He told me, “When your number is up, then it is up.”

He smiled into my disbelieving face, “The real problem is when you are standing next to some other guy whose number is up, and he takes you with him.”

My friend was discussing car accidents and plane crashes, but I wonder what he would say about the loss of the many innocent victims that we have come to know through the news during these past years.

I wonder how he feels about second amendment rights. I wonder if he goes through his life ready to dodge the next guy whose number may be up. Or if he just accepts that his own number might be pulled a little earlier than expected due to proximity. Maybe he just accepts it. Or maybe he just stays home in bed.

It is easy to be driven inside. I think we are all suffering from small internal warning voices urging us to avoid crowds, gatherings and events. It is the small voice of fear I imagine most of us have started to hear more frequently.

Maybe listening to that voice will keep us safer, but the injuries we inflict upon ourselves through feelings of  insecurity and lack of safety wound us too.

We are hurt through missed experiences and we are diminished in our own lives.

It is hard to get out of bed. But it is necessary. I am determined to prevent somebody else from pulling my own ticket. And I am determined not to let the fear of that ticket puller keep me here with my back to the sun.

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