I believe in predawn darkness.
Over the years, my voluntary immersion in it has taken the form of rising early to work on a manuscript, or to make my way to the top of a mountain and watch the world awake from there.
These days, I’m up bloody early because my two year old daughter Amelia is an early riser. A very early riser. I suppose I can’t blame her for this; most nights she’s in bed by 7 p.m. Amelia has an eight month old sister, Molly. As a result, Mommy and Daddy have been sleep-deprived for years now.
In winter, Amelia’s call from the adjoining room comes like a siren in the chilly gloom. I stumble my way to her crib, lower the side, and carry her downstairs. There we sit in the inky darkness. I try to convince Amelia to cuddle up with me on the couch; instead, she starts to play. We’re up, after all.
Occasionally, a handsome red fox visits us. It pokes its nose against the sliding glass door leading to the backyard, and when it spots us inside, it trots off under the wooden fence and into the neighbor’s yard. I love foxes. “And me,” Amelia tells me when I say as much out loud. The visit from the fox wakes me a little, as does the percolating coffee in the kitchen.
It’s still dark, and will continue to be for another half-hour or so. As I slowly shake my grogginess, aware all the while that while I want nothing more than to crawl back into bed, someday – and someday soon – I’m going to miss this. Because I’m here with Amelia now.
Outside of our dark bubble, there are papers to grade, manuscripts to edit, emails to answer, phone calls to return. But for now, this hour like the breathing-space of life, it’s just the two of us. And sometimes the fox.
Slowly, the sky begins to illumine. The world intrudes. By this time, Molly and Mommy are awake. I can hear the soft footfalls coming down the stairs, see the duo come into the lightening bubble.
Amelia exclaims in delight to see her sister and her mommy. She then tells them both, in her irresistible toddler jabber, all about the fox. The day has come, the darkness has gone. I’m tired, but I’m also lucky. The luckiest man in the world. This I believe.
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