It’s a late Thursday night, actually early Friday morning, and I find myself wide-awake pondering my existence once again. With all that’s gone awry in my life, all the intense pain I’ve confronted in the past year, why do I choose to continue facing the challenges put before me? Why do I endure the pain and loneliness when it would be so much easier to simply give in to The Beast and end this torment?
I lie in my bed, TV on with no sound, quietly watching the ceiling fan spin above my head. The whirring of the blades is somewhat soothing to me. I’ve opened the slider door leading out to the patio. Disgusted by the filth of the dirty pool I chose not to sit outside today. The air-conditioning kicks-on and I think about how I’m wasting so much money opening doors with it still programmed for 76 degrees.
There are crickets chirping outside accompanied by the sounds from late night birds. This too is peaceful to me. I hear no blaring radios, parents screaming at their children, or lawn-mowers and week-whackers chopping away at the fast-growing yards in the neighborhood. No sign of man this night. Tonight, its between me and Mother Nature.
I know its far too early for me to be rising but I cannot make myself fall back to sleep. Instead, I light a cigarette, turn on the little lamp on my bedside table and shuffle into the kitchen for a glass of water. There are dishes on the counter. I’d washed them weeks ago but there they still sit. There is unread mail scattered across the room. I wondered if any of it was of any importance to me at all… probably not.
I opened the door leading out to the garage. I’m not sure why but I walked out there and just stared at Betsy (my motorcycle) for a good five minutes. She was pretty dirty from this past weekend’s rides. Call me crazy but I started talking to her. “Pretty mad at me aren’t you girl?” She didn’t need to answer as her handlebars did not move and stayed pointed in the direction facing away from me. I knew her reply. I kissed my fingers and tapped them on her tank. “I’m sorry. I’ll take care of you tomorrow.”
I made my way back inside, turned out the light and locked the door behind me giving Betsy one last look before doing so. It was still dark in the house but, oddly, I could see everything as clear as day. Two pillows lying at opposite ends of the couch where I had obviously spent a night or two; Kimmie’s little desk still had the notes she was taking for our next adventure neatly stacked in the corner; her chair still turned from the last time she rose from her work. I couldn’t help but think about how much I missed her tapping on the keyboard of her computer performing her research.
I slid open the pocket door leading to her bedroom. As I stood in her doorway, I closed my eyes. I recalled the many times she would be lying there in bed while I stood in this very spot and argued my innocence, knowing I’d done something stupid to upset her again. I could hear her answers… short, one-word replies indicating her disagreement to whatever I had to say. I opened my eyes and, sadly, she still wasn’t there.
Walking back to my room, I thought I saw Tink. He was our cat who I had recently put to sleep as he was so ill. I imagined him sleeping peacefully atop the cushions on the couch. He looked so at ease. Perhaps Moma had just brushed his fur before retiring for the evening. I was certain I had given him his tuna for the night otherwise he would have been underfoot. No, it wasn’t Tink… just another shadow generated by the moon.
Finally back in my room, I slumped down on my bed. I propped-up the pillows behind me, grabbed my computer from the nightstand and logged-in to my Facebook account. I was just checking to see what everyone else was up to last night or if, by chance, anyone was still online.
One woman was clearly still upset over a recent relationship break-up. All of her posts were about how the ones you love should be treated. She obviously still misses him. Another hated the government and our president and she had no problem expressing her opinions about both. Then, of course, came all the pictures of the kids and dogs. I couldn’t help but think about how happy these folks must be… how proud they were of what they had! I, was jealous. I also took a look back at my previous postings. Man… how pathetic I can be at times! A lot were recognizably the direct result of my overindulgence earlier that night.
Finally setting my laptop down, I laid-back against my now rumpled pillows. I left the light on, crossed my arms on my chest, and just stared up at the fan. I sat watching the blades spin effortlessly for quite some time. At one point, I still don’t know why, I turned to my left and looked beside me. I knew there would be nobody there but I looked anyway. Nope, no one there either.
Feeling restless and unable to sleep, I decided to get up again. This time, I took a little walk out the front door. Not wanting to let any animals of the night inside, but also not risking the chance at locking myself out, I left the door open just a tad. I meandered out to the driveway and plopped myself down on the cement. There I was, cross-legged on the ground, leaning back on my hands and gazing at the night sky. Again, so peaceful and serene as the insects continued their serenade to the darkness.
I sat outside for quite some time just taking-in the solitude of the evening, trying to inhale the mystery and fortitude of the night air. Nights like these seem never-ending to me. I’m sure you’ve been there… you want to sleep, you want some rest but you just can’t seem to get there. “Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be a great day!” I silently thought to myself.
After sitting on the pavement for about an hour my butt, or lack thereof, became sore and I knew it was time to stand. I rose to my feet and brushed the loose dirt from my pajama bottoms. I really didn’t need those tiny little pebbles in my bed-sheets. From there I walked to the front of our truck, the Kimmie-Lee. I had named it that long before she passed as the effort she had put into finding it well deserved that honor.
As I stood, elbows on her hood, I once again began talking to a piece of machinery. “What am I to do Kimmie-Lee? I’m still wrapped in deep sadness that no one really understands; my own depression overwhelms me at times; I’m not happy with what I’m doing and find it hard to smile at anything! I really don’t see the hope anymore.” I knew she was listening intently.
It was at that moment I thought of my children. My son was finally doing well after a rough bout with life, one daughter had already graduated college and was off on a good career and my youngest daughter was acing her classes at Florida State! A smile came to my face yet a tear on my cheek.
I looked back at their younger years. I remembered the hugs, the kisses and the running up to me as I walked through the front door coming home from work. Oh how I miss those days ever so engraved in my heart! I thought about me, Daddy. Back then, I worked so hard… too hard. While I always made sure they had what they needed, I never really gave them what they wanted most… me! “Am I too late?!” I slammed my fists down on Kimmie-Lee’s hood. Gently, but firmly.
It was at that very moment, I heard it “You’ve much to do Woody, you cannot give-up now!” I wasn’t sure where the words came from… my Angel? Kimmie? Mom? Who spoke these words to me?! I guess it didn’t really matter… I found my answer for tonight. Maybe I can’t be there as much as I’d like to but that doesn’t mean I can’t make them proud! It doesn’t mean I can’t leave them with something to always remember and cherish about their Father.
It was now nearing 4:00 AM. I walked back up the sidewalk and towards the door. Strangely, it was now wide-open as if welcoming me back home. That kind of felt good. Perhaps there was someone standing just inside, holding the door in their right hand and gesturing to me to come back in. My strength was returning.
As I often do after such a night, I sat back down on my bed and wrote this story. I’m not sure there is any meaning to anyone but me in here but, nonetheless, something I had to do. Tomorrow, or more accurately today, I will begin another day. I will rise-up against the challenges, and do as I must to get through. After all, I have new hope today.
Soon, very soon, I will find my way. I will seek-out and hopefully discover what it is I am meant to do here and point myself in that direction. I will write my stories, try my best to help others in need and make my children proud! I know Kimmie will be standing over my shoulder and reading every word to ensure I’m using proper grammar while Mom will kiss my forehead each night before I sleep… putting my soul at ease.
Hopefully, when my time has come and I have moved on to the next plain, my words will remain. Maybe, just maybe… as my children grow and have sons and daughters of their own… they might one day sit with them, holding a little book in their hand… point at it, smile and say… that’s my Dad!