I could hear the end of the run, the furnace was turning cool and readying to shut down, and my heart, perhaps...no, most definitely skipped a beat. I didn't want the cycle to end, or for it to be a cycle. I was welcoming and basking in the warmth and the noise, and when it shut down with it's final slam, the metal of the machinery clanking unceremoniously, it was loudly, painfully silent. I hadn't realized the absolute comfort of the sound, the familiar heavy whirring that clicks on and off throughout the day, until it was making it's exit. I had needed the noise, like a newborn babe needing comfort outside the womb, without the familiar whooshing and beats of her mother's being and body. I could then hear the sounds of my daughter, singing softly to drift off to sleep, and the rumbled purrs of the cat, the dog's nails clicking on the wooden floor as she stretched. I could hear my breath and for a moment watched my chest rise and fall in conjunction, and the involuntary movements startled me, because in that moment I felt like I should have a choice in the matter.
I have settled into winter, which has come early this year. Autumn was fleeting, as it tends to be. Summer hangs on, when we're sweaty and worn of it, when we long for a change in wardrobe and activity, when we want to burrow into our homes and our kitchens, when the last of the light produce is naturally phasing out and the heartier things make way at the markets, and we long for the comforts of butter and richness in our foods. It comes, eventually, and I tend to desire winter's bitter cold, yet somehow it slips my mind year after year, what winter brings for this tattered and broken soul of mine, a darkness that is mind-numbing and life-sucking that drives me to the security of my bed linens and the thick shroud of down that gives weight to the anxiousness and smothers the bloody, gruesome imagery that plays over and over without warning, sickening things that I wrestle away for their very nature, so against who I hold myself to be.
I wasn't going to talk about it. It's a shameful thing, not only socially but within my heart. The struggle is real and terrible and ruthless, it finds me again and again. Without much warning or foreshadow, it begins to creep into my veins, slowly at first. I find myself tired, perhaps a bit lost in my work. Ambition and drive begin to falter as this force gathers strength and comrades, such as doubt and anger and sadness. I will cry over someone lost, maybe, or I will cower and take cover from attacks from those around me. I will lash out at my wife. She knows it before I do. I try to deny it, embarrassed and shaking with fear, for it's my tenth year of this and I know what is coming and I cannot stop it, it's too fast and much stronger than I. I am weak in the face of it. The power of it is unstoppable now, and rushes toward my heart, which finds itself heavy and full then, and the walls feel burdened, like they could burst. I know now, and I speak the words. I am weary.
Rousing myself for daily tasks feels like I'm tackling the impossible. I find myself burrowing deeper into the folds of down and linen, embracing and reveling in the weight and shield of it. The gray out of doors becomes a blur, and I move through the motions with whatever I can muster. I stand in the doorway of my daughter's bedroom while she sleeps and wish over her, a prayer of sorts, that she never find herself in the throes of this darkness, this perverted joke, that can come without warning and consume. I leave my place of rest for her in the mornings and fumble with the milk and cereal and sit with my mug while she eats, I weep when she cannot see or hear. I stand in silence instead, say little, give what is needed of me. Yet I believe it is possible that her little heart knows, she holds me tighter and climbs into my lap to lay her sweet-smelling head upon my shoulder, reaches those tiny boned hands to my hair to stroke it softly, brushes her rosebud lips across my cheek.
The sun shone this morning, when I needed it to, the gray that has blanketed the skies for weeks on end broke, for just one glorious and joyful hour. I basked in the golden streams, rolling and stretching on the bed, until the clouds returned. I swung my legs over the side and went to make eggs and mushrooms and warm tea and milk, and sat at the table with my daughter, feeling the triumph of another morning begun, but the crushing realization of another day to conquer.