lights out, words gone


we lost power the other night for about two hours. i caught the flash of the generator out of the corner my eye before everything went black. the dog immediately started panting and the floor all but shook with her trembling. (her tracking and pointing instincts never had hope in developing. she's decently birdy but terribly gun-shy, which i use very liberally to include all things that POP, CRACK, or BOOM.)

for the first time in years i remembered what is was like to be afraid of the dark. not because i was scared but because the baby immediately began whimpering. i picked him up and he wrapped his little arms so tightly around me that i laughed, kissed his cheek and whispered "koala baby" in his ear.

my husband gathered the few candles we have and searched for matches while i continued to calm our two pups. once the flames were lit i handed the boy off to free my hands for finishing dinner. luckily all the cooking was done and all that was really left was to plate the food.

my son kept getting distracted, while i was feeding him spoonfuls of pumpkin puree. his attention was drawn to the dog who was still crouched under the table, hyperventilating. he would look between me and her with an expression that asked what's gotten into her? after a few back-and-forths he paused and slowly raised his hand, holding it out in front of him as if gesturing us all to stop. {my husband would vocalize the same notion an hour later, but at that moment, the gesticulation was a mystery.}

i continued to feed him but he kept that hand up and was looking off into the distance. what's gotten into him? i wondered. "are you seeing this?" i asked my husband. "he's so curious". then it occurred to me: i followed his vision and saw the shadow on the wall behind me. for the first time, he saw his own shadow. he's like that boy, peter - he's trying to catch his shadow.

he signaled fullness with a heavy sign and i wiped his faced before lifting him out of from his seat. the falling snow outside had accumulated to two inches and was absorbing any residual sounds that the power hadn't already taken out. a full belly, darkness, and the profound quiet was all he needed to doze off, leaving my husband and i to our candlelit dinner.

when we were done eating, my husband and i sat in silence on the couch. the house was cooling off quickly so we draped his grandmother's knit blanket across the both of us. i feigned conversation. nothing. i challenged him to a rematch in scrabble; "you're going down", but the board never came out. he kept his arm firmly around me, my head rising and falling with his breath as it rested in the crook of his neck. "there isn't a better excuse to slow down than being forced to do so by a power outage" he said out loud. "mmm" i responded.

but my mind was racing with everything i *should* be doing. i couldn't just sit there. i felt idle. he remarked on the candle holder and how we only had an hour or two under the wax would melt away in to total darkness. my thoughts went five steps further: what will we do for light? how will we all keep warm overnight? we should bring the baby into bed with us. the food in the fridge will spoil. will the roads be cleared by morning?

"come down from the clouds" my husband said. he knows me well. "i'm not like you" i deplored. "i can't just calm my mind like that". we sat in silence another few minutes, both of us hypnotized by the flickering light. i finally stood up, exacerbated and announced i was going to bed. "ok." i could hear the disappointment in his voice.

the lights came blaring back on thirty minutes later and woke me from the sleep that had only just washed over my active mind minutes earlier. my husband hurried around the house, lowering the volume on the tv and turning off the excessive lights. it was too late though. the power was back on and so were my thoughts.

he stayed on the couch reading by candlelight another half hour and i jumped on the computer, frantically jumping from page to page and catching up on my reading/writing. he shuffled into the bedroom, fell into bed, and asked how much longer i'd be. i joined him three hours later when sleep finally came back around.

the next morning i thought about my son's little hand; palm opened wide and fingers reaching in every direction for  its shadow. his instructions were clearer now: stop. slow down. find the light, study the dark. take a deep breath and let go.


Amy@eatsleepdecorate said...

I absolutely love this! Sometimes I think circumstances occur to remind us to slow down, step back and take a look around at all we are blessed with! I am so at fault with going from task to task and forget to take the time with my husband, friends or to just be in the world. Thanks for the reminder today! I was so in need of this! xoxo

Rikki Rivera said...

In all honesty, I am definitely afraid of the dark, but I also love when the weather turns and our power goes out. Mostly because we're illuminated by candles and we bust out board games, cards, and all the things we need to do - well, we can't and it doesn't matter. It's the best thing to receive such gentle reminders to slow down and appreciate these times.

lucinda smith said...

you've got it, amy. the world speaks to us in many ways, sometimes we just need to quiet our minds and listen to what it's telling us. love you guys!

lucinda smith said...

yes! sometimes it takes the forced quiet of a power outage, but so long as we have those moments, we remember to live with intention


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