A Moment of Decision

December 20, 2011
The night was the blackest I had seen in a long time. My eyes were fixed on the spot on my floor where a slice of moon always seemed to land, hoping for the glow to appear, hoping for a normal night. But hours passed and that small spot remained dark. I sighed and flipped over in my bed, giving up. There was no moon that night.

The day had been no better. The sun seemed to have been too shy to come out, hiding behind the clouds like a stubborn child hides behind their mom’s protective skirts. I kept my eyelids lowered, unable to bring myself to face the monotony and depression of hospital walls without even a sliver of sunbeam to garner hope. I was too young then to fully comprehend the heavy sound of machinery keeping my grandmother alive, too inexperienced to recognize the remarkably similar sound of sobs being held in close, afraid of being let out, afraid of exploding into uncontrollable sadness. I was too young to realize that I would not be here until the end. That if, by some miracle, the night did not end as a moonless one, did not end with one of the brightest lights I had ever known being snuffed out, I would not be there to see it. A parent's protective instinct would send me home to twist and turn in restless worry. No one wants a girl so young to see someone she loves die.

It was perhaps the longest car ride of my life that took me back to my house that day. Perhaps the longest time it took me to climb my burgundy set of stairs, to open the door to my rain darkened room. To come to terms with the fact that this night, this night of impossible implications, would pass by with me in my outdated Christmas printed pajama pants holding my worn blue pillow as tightly as my little hands would let me. Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting became impossibly difficult.

It seemed as if with every inch the sun sunk into its pocket of horizon, it would pull the downturned crescents of my lips into more pronounced creases in my eleven year old face, a face decades too young to see wrinkles. My room had become a jail cell of rubber walls, bouncing worries and imagined scenarios around my shower dampened head of hair and tiring me enough to drive me to bed, where nothing real could seem to hurt me.

The moment my breathing had slowed to an even metronome, blissfully lulling me into its tragically false pretense of security, I heard the door one floor down open. And I knew. I knew that the next ten minutes would either suck away all my hope of seeing my little sliver of moon that night, or it would blow the breath back into my troubled lungs. I hoped with the desperation of a mother who has lost sight of her child in a crowded park that it was the latter. That my chest would finally be able to relax and I could sink into the pillows that for some reason felt very unforgiving to my padded cheeks that night.

Despite my youth, despite my naivete, despite my inexperience, it was clear that there would be no moon that night. Because as I listened to my parents' heartbroken conversation two floors down, it was painfully obvious to me what had happened.

And this was the moment of my decision.

My brain became wracked with feuding desires. The selfish desire to go downstairs, to face the facts, to make someone tell me, to my face, what had happened. And the calm yet solid will in my mind to let it go, to drop it for the night, to release my parents from having to worry about telling their daughter that grandma would not be at dinner every night anymore.

I lay, frozen, for thirty-two minutes, thinking.

And I finally realized that that night-stained spot on my carpet was not going to be bleached by moonbeam that night, no matter how much I wanted it to. I never did leave my room that evening. I won't ever know if going downstairs to face the truth that night would have made things easier, more simple to come to terms with. But I made a decision in a moment of indecision, and it was what it was meant to be.

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