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Pauline Lerner

March 14, 2005 at 5:58 AM

Yesterday, when the sky grew dark and night approached, it happened again. I started feeling depressed and I didn’t want to go home alone again. I procrastinated as much as I could but, after a while, I was in my own quiet home, with depression dogging me. I did my best to stave it off by busying myself. I fiddled around the Internet, did some email correspondence, had dinner while going through my paper mail, tried to untangle the wires on my computer so I can get my audio back, vacuumed my home. I was scared. This happens so often. I can keep depression at arm’s length until I turn out the lights and get into bed alone. Then there is nothing to distract me from what is playing in the theatre of my mind. There are nights that I lie awake in bed and cry until dawn, when I can finally fall asleep. Those are my darkest nights, and I’m so afraid of them that sometimes I don’t go to bed at all. Last night I knew that I wanted to get up and go to church this morning, so I took my prescription meds and talked myself into getting into bed at about 4 AM. Then it started, just as I feared, just as I knew.

I don’t know whether I was awake, asleep, or in some state in between when it happened. I had an awful dream or vision. I was in a room watching as someone draped a veil around a corpse, which still looked alive, and put it into a coffin. It was the body of my late, lamented lover. His brother was there, standing just behind me. I was crying vehemently, making a flood of tears. All the while, I kept saying, “I love you. I love you with all my heart.”

I woke up a short time later, when the alarm went off, feeling like hell. I had a strong drive to get out of the house though, so I took some Pepto Bismol and waited for it to take effect. Then I got out, got on the bus, and read the book I had brought for the 45 minute trip. When the bus got close to the church, I thought, “I just want to get into church, listen to the music, and cry.” The music did it for me. It took me out of myself and let me focus on something outside of me. The music was made by a children’s steel drum orchestra. The youngest, about 10 years old, did an incredible solo. When the kids played, they had that intense, rapt look on their faces, the look I see so often on my own students. After the service I talked to the kids and then to various friends in the congregation. I went out with a new friend I like very much to a Chinese restaurant for dim sum, and we both pigged out.

When I got home, I felt the cold shroud of darkness approach me again. I thought that if I wrote about my devils, I might be able to exorcise them. As I wrote this and described my fear, I felt it grow inside me. When I wrote about music and friends, I felt as though I were seeing daylight again. One of my students will be here soon, and another one after her, so my devils will stay away. They only come after me while I’m alone. Tonight, again, the forces of Darkness and of Light will fight over me. Sometimes I think it’s a battle that never ends.

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