I awake to my bed shaking. The window frames click and tick with the shifting earth beneath them. Another earthquake. Is it a bad one? In my sleepy stupor, I wonder if this time we will all have to dash onto the street in our pajamas. My heart pounds as I listen for voices and wait for more tremors.
But all I hear is the thump and whine of the garbage truck making its rounds like it does every night. It is comforting to wake up in uncertainty and then find the world is familiar after all.
Is this what my neighbor boy thought when I slipped across the street in the middle of the night to pick him up? While Mommy and Daddy were at the hospital awaiting baby brother, Little S had spent the evening with another neighbor but would not consent to spending the night. He filled their home with his wails.
When he saw me standing at the front door, he ran into my arms, sobbing as if he had just been waiting for something that made sense.
I picked him up and brought him home. He knows my house, and he knows me. We curled up on the couch after he had fallen asleep from sheer exhaustion. For hours, his breath shuddered from leftover sobs. The body does not quickly forget its tears. Spending the night away from his parents for the first time in his life wasn’t easy…for either of us.
But in a sense, I got to be his garbage truck–the familiar presence as the earth shifted beneath him.
Photo credit: Lucas van Oort on unsplash.com