Early morning black and Stephen is snoring, quietly, but enough that it wakes me. I try to pretend for a while that I can ignore the rhythm of it, but I finally give up and rise. Take my ear plugs out and put them in the drawer in the bedside table. Ease out from the covers.
I reach down and gently lift Nicholas from his pillow on the floor where he's been sleeping ever since the injury. It hurts my heart that he may never be able to sleep in the bed with us again.
Hip dysplasia. Thank you, 2020, for bestowing so many gifts upon us. We give him his medicine. We rest him. We keep him from jumping up or down from things, going up and down the stairs. Hoping treatment will avoid surgery, I don't want him to have to go through yet another surgery.
I carry him quiet through the dark house. Up the stairs. Maybe, maybe I can put him down on his pillow on the floor. Put the baby gate at the top of the stairwell. Go back to sleep on the little daybed.
Through the dark of the room, there's a tick-tick-tick against the skylights. It's raining. Of course it's raining. Nicholas is afraid of the rain. Even with the baby gate up to keep him from going back down, he'll pace. He'll be agitated and afraid. If I put him back downstairs will he stay if I'm not there? Will he try to find me?
For a moment we stand here, suspended, Nicholas in my arms, his little silhouette turned toward the tick-tick-ticking against the glass.
I try to believe it will be OK, that his hip will get stronger and we can manage things. But this year. I've lost so much. We've all lost so much. This raging pandemic, this president downplaying and lying even as he gets pumped full of special and experimental drugs behind the scenes for his own case of the virus that his administration mismanaged, telling people this thing is not a big deal so they'll go out and keep catching it and keep spreading it, keep dying. Less than a month away from the election, and no, I don't have hope that it'll turn out OK, because this year and these four years have taught us otherwise. Sometimes I think my brain has been permanently changed to be unable to ever have hope again that things could be OK.
Don't think about it. Don't wake yourself up. Take Nicholas back down. Maybe you can go back to sleep. At least that's something, right? A few more hours of sleep?
I turn and take a step, and my foot kicks a water glass on the floor. It cracks into pieces.