Trapped between laughter and tears

The sound of a crash woke me from a sound sleep.

Sitting up, I cried out and scrambled toward the footboard.

I saw my husband lying on the floor.

What shall I do there isn’t a phone in the bedroom I can’t leave him to get to the phone the portable is downstairs what will I do without him…All that and more raced through my  mind between waking and reaching the foot of the mattress.

Then David sat up beside me and turned on the light.

For twenty years, I lived with the possibility of hearing that crash and finding my mother lying on the floor unconscious. I’d hear the thud and run. Since 911 service wasn’t available where we lived, I had memorized the phone numbers–cardiologist’s office, cardiologist’s home, EMS. After the first couple of incidents, I learned how to communicate efficiently with the voice at the other end of the wire.

The falls didn’t happen often–fewer than a dozen times all told–but without realizing, I lived on edge, my subconscious alert, listening for that sound. Hypervigilance wove itself into my nature.

Mother has been gone for seventeen years. Since then I’ve relaxed, stopped waiting and watching for disaster.

Or I thought I had. But when I heard this morning’s crash, I knew that when I looked over the curved railing, I would see David.

I saw instead that the kitty stair on the left side of the bed was tipped over on its side. The vertical blinds, to the right, were flapping. One of our year-old tomcats had obviously jumped onto the stair and given an overly emphatic push when launching himself onto the bed. The ensuing crash  scared him enough to send him off the other side and into the sliding glass door.

We acquired the stair when Chloe was fifteen and needed help getting onto the bed. The current resident felines don’t need it, but it’s become part of the decor. After this morning’s episode, that may change.

David righted the stair, climbed back in bed, turned off the light, and fell asleep.

I lay there in the dark, trapped between laughter and tears, trying to let go of the fear.


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