Sunday Morning ~ To Be Trusted
Nkhwangwa ikhulupirira mpini. ~ The axe-head trusts the handle.
~ Chewa proverb
December 1, 2019
“If you have to go to the bathroom, wake me up so I know where you are.” She said this as she struggled to keep her eyes open. She is falling asleep in my bed; snuggled into the cradle my body makes as I bend my knees around her. It’s the night before Thanksgiving. Her parent’s room is crowded now that her brother is big enough to sleep in the small bed jammed between the bureau and hope chest while the dog bed covers the only exposed floor. They could take a bigger room; I have one here, but my daughter is attached to her childhood room. Amelia won’t sleep alone, so there we were tucked in together in my bed. I could barely see her head surrounded by pillows and quilts. She was apprehensive when we first made this sleeping arrangement. She was worried I didn’t have a nightlight and she didn’t like seeing the dress forms in the sewing room across the hall. She said they scared her. I closed the bedroom door so they couldn’t see us. I told her maybe they want company too. Maybe they are scared. She said with conviction, “No. They aren’t. They are ok.” I felt her little body relax once the light was out and she saw the Christmas lights in the greenhouse gave the bedroom an approved glow. I thought, shoot, I forgot to unplug those, but when I saw how content she was, I was relieved I’d forgotten. She pulled her knees up tighter with a little quiver, as if she were excited all her conditions were met. Her feet rested against my legs. She reached out her little hand to hold onto my arm, additional insurance that I wouldn’t go anywhere. I assured her I will wake her if I have to get up, but I almost never do so she shouldn’t worry about that. It seemed a mature and insightful concern, an adult having to get up at night to pee. I’d rather suffer than wake her and sneaking away would be too cruel and dangerous. I was more concerned about the morning when I’d want to be up early in the kitchen, quietly drinking my tea and getting things ready for the day. I thought of activities I’d like done before everyone got up: getting breakfast food on the counter, making coffee, making a list so I wouldn’t forget things in the fridge once the kitchen was buzzing–––all a little easier when I’m alone. Amelia sleeps later than me and when she was here this summer, she didn’t mind me being up before her. I’d look up from weeding my garden and see her watching me, her blond hair rumpled, her suntanned legs and bare feet poking out beneath her nightgown. I always startled and she’d crack up laughing. I reminded her of this and whispered, “In the morning, if I’m awake first, could I go down and work in the kitchen while you sleep? I’ll leave the door open so I can hear you. All you’d have to do is call and I’d run up the stairs.” She shook her head no without hesitating and said definitively, “No, wake me up.” It was way past her bedtime and she was exhausted. I watched her and thought about how much she trusts me. She believes I’ll just stay here or wake her if I need to leave.
I laid awake thinking about this. I looked at this little angel who needed her sleep. I wondered how I’d feel in the morning, anxious to get up but not wanting to wake her. Sneaking away while she slept wasn’t an option. I wouldn’t be able to bear her disappointment in me when she’d learn I hadn’t kept my word. I looked at the stack of books on my bedside table and thought I could catch up on some reading in the morning. I’d just delegate to make up for it later. I thought about all the times adults told me they’d do something then didn’t, never thinking they had to explain or apologize. It was the sixties. I thought of the times I was scolded for being upset about it as though I was the one who’d been dishonest. I was always “overreacting”. I thought about promises that they wouldn’t rip the band aid off, they “only want to look at it”. I believed them, then whapp! off it’s ripped and though, yes, it was good to be done and over with, it was always a betrayal. I was apparently supposed to appreciate this. I fell for it every time. I thought back to when I was Amelia’s age and our babysitter told me she’d wake me up when the Flintstones came on. I was really tired but didn’t want to miss it so asked if I could nap until it started. It was only on once a week! This sixteen year old beauty said, “Yes! I will wake you! Go ahead and sleep.” Reassured, I fell asleep and woke just as the show was ending and burst into tears. I said, “You said you’d wake me up!” and she said, quite sincerely and apologetically, “I know but when I went to get you you were sleeping so peacefully I just couldn’t wake you up.” I laid there Wednesday night, wondering how much electricity white Christmas lights consumed and pictured that little girl wearing baby doll pajamas watching the credits roll with tears streaming down her face. I thought how I’d never want to be the reason my granddaughter felt that way. I laughed to myself as I was drifting off to sleep at how clear that memory was and how it had been triggered. I could imagine the flashback scene in the movie.
Waking her in the morning wasn’t that hard. I slept later than I expected and when I rolled over, she opened her eyes and saw I was still there.
That’s what I want her to remember.
It was a really nice Thanksgiving. Everyone is gone now, headed off ahead of the approaching storm. Advent begins today and I’ll make the wreath and light the first candle. Hope this week, peace the next, then joy, then love. Snow is coming and it’s time to turn inward and reflect. I like to keep this season simple.
Love to all,