It was an unusually warm and sunny Sunday afternoon in late April … one of those days that you open the bedroom curtains to the sunshine streaming in. Trees were budding, the grass was beginning to turn that thick lush green that promised free spirited, barefoot, toe curling summer days to come. And the birds, oh the birds. Tweeting, chirping, singing their lively spring songs. It all nearly DROVE ME CRAZY!!!!!!
I couldn’t stand it anymore. Any of it! It seemed the whole world was happy. The young kids riding tricycles as fast as their little legs could peddle, smiles as wide as the sidewalk they were riding along. The older kids laughing in camaraderie as they played street hockey. The three girls down the street shooting balls through the hoop at the end of the driveway, playing a friendly game of two on one. My teenage son and my daughter were among the ones laughing and having fun, happy to be outdoors after a long, miserable winter.
I cried. I couldn’t have told you at the time WHY I cried but I did. I couldn’t stop. Standing there, looking out the window I sobbed for at least 10 minutes. I also made a decision that day. I decided that I wasn’t worthy. I wasn’t worthy of having such great kids. I wasn’t worth of living in such a beautiful home. I wasn’t worthy of my good friends, my sisters, or my parents. What about my husband? Well, that is a different story for a different day.
I knew I needed to do something about the way I was feeling. I knew it wasn’t rational to think the way that I was. I needed to make a change of some kind. And I did, but not the kind of change another rational wife and mother would make. I decided to move from the family home … in a manner of speaking.
I moved into the basement.
Now, you need to understand something. The basement of our home was unfinished. Nothing more than a place to house the furnace and store the Christmas decorations and accumulated “stuff” of a 23 year marriage. The boxed baby photos and fridge art. The half started craft and hobby projects, forgotten by one or both of the kids. You know the kind of “stuff” I mean. We all have it.
The basement was the cement block constructed foundation of our home, our life as a family together. But I didn’t see it that way. Not even close. It was a damp, cold, dark, mostly empty place. Just like me. It was lit by a single 40 watt light bulb that you pulled the chain to turn on or off. It made a small clicking sound whenever someone would pull the chain. But that someone wasn’t going to be me. For me, there was no chain to pull. No clicking sound that meant the light was on.
There was one thing for me though. Actually, two things … leaning against the wall behind the furnace area was an old mattress that was never discarded when a new one was bought. In the corner, draped over the stacked boxes was an old blanket that was keeping the dust from settling over the photographs and various nick knacks that make up 23 years worth of memories.
I dragged the mattress down and across the bare concrete floor until it was positioned under that light bulb. I had a reason for placing the mattress in that exact spot but I will tell you about that later. I pulled the old blanket off the stacked boxes and threw it over the old mattress. I stood back and looked at the results of my work and I was satisfied. This would be my new home. This dark and cold place, this basement that no one ever bothered to enter, this mostly empty place. It was perfect. It was me.
I would live there for the next 11 days, curled up, hugging that old musty blanket like a little baby. I lay there for 11 days, starring at that light bulb, that chain I knew I would never pull. The light would never be turned on, just as I knew the light inside me had been turned off and there was no one to pull the chain, make me click on, light me up inside.
I was alone in the basement … I had no idea how to climb the stairs out of the basement. I don’t think I even cared if there WERE any stairs to climb. Did I want out of the basement? Nope! I could have cared less if I ever left that dark empty space again. In fact, I could have cared less about anything.
But eventually someone did pull that chain … and everything changed.
Tomorrow I will tell you who that was, what happened when the chain was finally pulled …