Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Loneliness and The Golden Girls

I refused to go to bed. Twelve years old with a stubborn head on my shoulders, I absolutely refused to go to bed. I imagine my cousin was exasperated with me, but I don’t remember that. I don’t remember her arguing or being annoyed. I just remember that she went on to bed herself and that Chris had finally fallen asleep as well and that I was left utterly alone.

Lonely can sneak up on you fast when you’re twelve. Fast and mean, so that you’re surprised and overwhelmed when you find yourself curled up on a couch with no one but lonely and The Golden Girls to keep you company.

I had sat up all night twice before. After my seizure when I was eight, they ran all kinds of neurological tests on me, and two of the tests required me to stay up all night. At the time, I had been excited at the prospect of staying up. I had thought, Finally! I get to see what the grown-ups do after I go to bed. Turns out, the grown-ups didn’t do much of anything but sit there and talk, and after a certain point in the night, even television got boring. I didn’t fare too well those two nights, and my parents fought with me all night to keep me awake.

But tonight was different; I was older, more mature, and falling asleep just wasn’t an option. Falling asleep meant that reality might come a-knockin’ and whatever nightmares awaited me in sleep were nothing compared to the nightmare I would face upon waking. So I just wouldn’t sleep. Simple solution to a complex problem.   

I was a child, yes, but I was a child on the cusp of adolescence, and even my na├»ve twelve-year old heart knew what lay in wait that night. The adults, my parents and aunts and uncles, had sent all of us kids home to help shelter us, to somehow help us avoid that initial pain, but we still knew. Pawpaw was dying. He’d fought as long and as hard as he could against the ravenous monster eating away at his body, but the fight was all gone out of him now. The kids, we’d said our goodbyes, leaving the adults to stand vigil and wait for the inevitable.

I didn’t want to sleep, because I knew when I woke up Pawpaw would be gone, and I didn’t want to wake up to a world without Pawpaw.

So, I stayed up as long as I possibly could, watching The Golden Girls and thinking of Pawpaw smiling his gap-toothed smile, telling his Pawpaw tales, loving us “chilluns” with all his heart and soul. Loneliness kept me company that night with a laugh-track as our background music; it’s a memory I never want to remember but one that I can never quite forget. 

This memory was written in response to the following prompt: TV is something that people either watch a lot of or have definite feelings about. This week, we want you to think about tv show from your past. Maybe you watched it, maybe you didn't and it was just something that everyone else talked about.

What feelings does the show evoke? What memories does it trigger?

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