Flashing Red Lights

October 12th, 2022

When the paramedics come to our house, they always arrive with an ambulance and a fire truck. I guess it’s just their standard practice. They showed up at around 9:00 PM. The police had already been in our home for almost half an hour. The fire truck was parked in front of the yard, its red lights flashing in the darkness.

Asher stared through the window at the fire truck. I was holding him in my arms. I told him softly,

“Look at the red lights. Can you see them? I’m sure that everyone else in the neighborhood can.”

Asher had been sleeping, but not anymore. Chaos is not restful.

I had been talking with one of the police officers about Asher’s mom. She was the reason for his visit. It was strange. A couple hours earlier, things had been fine. The young woman had bathed and dressed Asher for bed. She was going to put him to sleep for the night. I had a bottle warmed up for him.

Then she started drinking. How long did it take for everything to unravel? Five minutes? Thirty minutes? Things got scary. Very scary.

I texted Karin to come home from her guild meeting after the young woman got drunk. Karin just wanted her to sleep it off, while we cared for Asher. That didn’t happen. It never happens like that. These episodes never end quietly. They also reach a feverish pitch of craziness, and then I call 9-1-1.

The young woman agreed with a cop to go to the hospital. She left with only her bathrobe, her phone and charger, and a head exploding with alcohol. Asher watched her walk out the door. Then he cried.

Asher is not quite two years old, but he understood. At some level, Asher knew that bad things were happening, and he cried. Karin told him,

“It’s okay. Mama is sick. She’s going to the hospital.”

That was all true, but it didn’t make Asher feel any better. It didn’t make anyone feel any better.

The boy cried. He cried, and he cried, and he cried.

We eventually put him into his stroller to take a walk. It was dark and wet outside. The wind blew drizzle on us. The houses in the cul-de-sac were ablaze with Halloween decorations. Asher enjoyed looking at them. Somehow, the scene was appropriate in a macabre way. After all, we were living in a horror movie, for real. Asher slowly settled down. We cried again when we got home.

Karin and I both laid down with him in bed. He swung like a pendulum between us. He cuddled with Karin, and then with me. Then he hugged Karin again. Then he held on to me. He wanted warmth and safety, and we provided what we could, but we didn’t feel safe either. It’s hard to give what you don’t have.

Asher gradually grew quiet. His breathing became calm and regular. His small fingers unclutched and released their grip on my hand. The boy slept.

He and Karin are still asleep. I woke up from the lightning in the sky and the sound of the distant thunder.

It’s not over yet. There is still a storm coming.

One thought on “Flashing Red Lights”

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