Wednesday, October 8, 2014

...a symphony of whistling and peanut butter.

Tonight I am sleeping in my old bedroom in my childhood home. All the bedrooms are above the garage. Mine is right next to my parent's. I stayed out here for a few weeks after my father died. First in bed with my mom. Reaching my arm out in the night to calm her when she sobbed in her state of half sleep. Eventually I moved into my old room. The first few nights it was like having a newborn. Getting up each time she cried and showing her I was there and confirming for her that he was not. One night the scream that came from her tired body was so terrifying. Strangulated and forced. Getting louder and more urgent. My whole body ached for the weight of her grief. She clung to me that night. A look of sheer terror in her eyes. She told me that she had felt her body being lifted off the bed. She was sure of it. She had seen him. And he was taking her. Eventually we gave up on the idea that she would be able to self soothe and achieve peaceful sleep. She began taking medication to sleep and has done so ever since. 

I haven't stayed here much since. The odd time when my sisters are here or at Christmas. But tonight I am alone in my old room. There are incredibly familiar sounds. The very faint sound of traffic on the distant highway. The rise and fall growl of an engine passing the house on the road out front. The constant sound of the vibration of the railroad tracks. It could be an hour before another train whistle blows but the tracks seem to hum perpetually with the friction of metal wheels on metal rails. And then the whistle. The comforting whistle. I don't even know how often a train passes through. The sound is not jarring enough for me to take note. It's just there or it isn't. Yesterday afternoon I know there were 3 during the funeral service for my uncle. 3 trains in that half hour. I reckon there might be fewer at night....

And tonight I am deafened by the sounds that are missing. My dad used to read insatiably. He would read in bed and fall asleep with his book in hand. He eventually installed a timer on the light. It clicked in rapid fire. Much louder than it should have for a device of it's size and purpose. It would make one loud click as the light turned out and then sort of fizzle out after that. That click and shift to darkness would often wake my dad and he would cough, roll over and turn the timer again. If that sound didn't wake him the sound of his book falling to the floor would. I think my mom slept with a light on more than off for most of her life. I often wondered why she didn't resort to sleeping in another room. 

There are other sounds missing. The whir and sigh of the air compressor, the ratcheting sound of something being lifted on a hoist or jack, the clang of indeterminate metal on metal.... The radio. The whistling. Oh and.... It's all flooding in. It's like a symphony.... The sound of a plastic bag having the twist tie removed. The slide and click of the toaster. The twist of the top of a peanut butter jar. The scrape of knife across toast. And the creak of that dining room chair....

It's strange coming home.  

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