Staring at the clock. 12:00AM. 12:15AM. 12:45AM 1:00AM 1:15AM. My heart begins to race. I try to force myself to sleep with the knowledge that if something does happen, someone will come for me. Still unsettled, I begin to listen for the wailing of ambulance sirens in the night. Simple mother prayers whisper from my lips. Wait! What's that?! Shhhhhh. I lay very, very still hardly breathing. A faint and distant slow-motion sound of the thunk of the deadbolt lock on the front door being opened by an experienced safe cracker with his ear to the door counting the clicks of the mechanism. I release the breath that I have been holding for what must have been quite some time. Next, I hear the turtle slow squeak of the front door's hinges. Another muffled slow snap of the deadbolt. Then, tiptoed steps. Wait for it. Wait for it. "Reed?! Is that you!? Come see me, schweet baby!!" A brief pause. "Uhhh. Yeah, it's me. I'm home." Relief floods my entire being. My child, indeed, lives to see another day. Now, I can sleep the sleep of angels on heavenly clouds and snore softly through the darkness of the night.
I haven't had to "sit shiva" since mid-August. I can't say that I miss the silence and fear a mother experiences as nighttime elapses slowly like molasses oozing out of a jar in a thin ribbon. As each minute ticks slowly past, the more vividly a mother's mind weaves the possibilities of evil that have most assuredly and viciously consumed and carelessly spat out her baby into the black abyss. Thoughts of horror are interlaced with thoughts of pining for her, perhaps, lost child. Tears actually well up in her eyes. Oh, there will be the funeral to plan. I won't be able to limit the slide show to less than 796 slides. I think that I'll have people send memorial donations to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. What on earth will I wear to the service? On and on until - the snap of the deadbolt.
Since mid-August, not counting the nights when my nose has been so stuffy that I wake up with cotton mouth at least 5 times per night, I have been sleeping like the Sominex commercial people with a slight smile on my peaceful face. It still surprises me when I wake up realizing that my bladder is about to rupture because I missed my nightly trips to the bathroom. Ah, what sweet slumber! Ah, what restful nights! "Safe and rested. Sleep, sleep, sleep."
On Friday, I will again be waiting. This time I will be waiting in the kitchen. It will be a sunny afternoon. Instead of a muffled dead bolt lock, I'll be watching for something special. Something I haven't seen for almost 2 months. I'll probably be standing at the sink washing the mountains of pots and pans piled up as a result of cooking the fatted calf. Every few minutes, I'll look through the window to see if a little white Nissan filled with dirty clothes has pulled up in front of my house. My heart will jump every time any type of white vehicle drives down 84th St. If one of them so much as pauses in front of 5605, I will be halfway down the sidewalk before I realize that it's not the Nissan I was anticipating. Instinctively, I will try to pinpoint the location of the slightest wail of a siren. Prayers will be whispered. From time to time, I walk out to the front door, squint, and gaze East as far as my eye can see which is actually only about 5 houses down the street due to the curvatures of both my street and the earth. Like the father of the prodigal son, I'll know them when I see them in the faraway distance for they are mine.
When the time comes, before the Nissan is in "park," I will be flying out the front door with arms outspread. I can already see them grinning. I can see their scraggly, uncut hair. I can smell the laundry. I can feel it now. My Baylor boys are coming home.