who is your 2 a.m. friend?

When trouble comes knocking on your door at 2 a.m., who will you call for help, darling?

who is your 2 a.m. friend?
Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash

Friday night. I was fast asleep when I heard the door open. I assumed it was KrA. And it was, for a moment later, I heard him call out to me.

"I'm asleep," I said, annoyed that he was waking me up.

"Can you come down and help me?" he asked.

Grumbling and sleepy-eyed, I slipped out of bed and made my way to the landing, my mind already spinning stories about disturbed sleep and how that was going to wreck the next day's routine.

And that's when I saw him. Hobbling on crutches and with a big cast on his left leg.

"I fractured my ankle," he said.

I still couldn't make sense of what was going on. Friday night was typically skating night for him, and he usually returned at half past eight, never before injured like that.

"It's past midnight," he said. And I looked up at the clock and sure enough it was close to one in the morning.

So turned out, towards the end of the session, he had fallen while making a turn and landed on his ankle, splintering it. A coach had sat with him while they waited for an ambulance, and then he was taken to the hospital, Advil dripping into his veins and his foot in a makeshift cast.

Three broken bones, was the doctor's verdict from the X-ray diagnosis. With a temporary cast plastered on him, KrA bundled himself into an Uber and made his way back home.

With my phone on silent, all 21 of his calls to me during this time went completely ignored.

KrA managed to get himself up the stairs and into bed, and then he booked an Uber for me so I could get to the skating rink and bring back our car, which he had had to leave at the parking lot there.

1:30 in the night. Or in the morning. I imagined all sorts of things that could go wrong. But it also bothered us that if our car were to be stolen, we'd be handicapped in more ways than one over the coming days.

With KrA on the other end of the phone, I got into the Uber that turned up. I wasn't even holding a conversation with KrA. He just stayed on line, ready to hit the Emergency button if needed.

We need not have worried. The driver was very kind to me. He didn't want to pry, but the situation must have piqued his curiosity. He first asked me if I needed a ride back, and I said No. As we neared the place, I told him I need to spot my car, and when we found it, he asked me if it had broken down. I then explained what had happened, with KrA having had to leave it at the rink following his injury. The Uber driver then offered to stay until I got into the car and started it and could drive off. And he did.

I drove back on empty roads, lit by streetlamps and traffic lights, and it was like being in a different world. It was a surreal feeling, like a memory from another lifetime, for I haven't been out by myself at 2 a.m. in far too many years to count.

Back at home, KrA was fast asleep, no doubt exhausted by all that had happened and the toll his broken bones were taking on his body. D was blissfully asleep, unaware of how his little world had changed overnight.

D woke up the next morning and asked KrA to help him choose a book to read as he does every morning, and KrA had to break the news of his immobility to the little child, who then came to my room in a state of incomprehension. He was listless for a long time, wanting to do no more than read or lie down with a blanket on top of him and try to go back to sleep.

It wasn't until KrA woke up three hours later and D could go up and see that other than a cast, nothing had collapsed in his world (Dada just got a boo-boo), that the child went back to his usual self, playing and shouting and running from here to there and lighting up the house with life and laughter bursting out of every pore of his skin.

That night, after bringing the car back home, I couldn't sleep a wink. My eyes were tired and I kept them closed, but my mind buzzed constantly, refusing to let up. There was fear, of course, as I dwelt on how I'd look after D and KrA all by myself. But mostly, I was feeling awfully bad for KrA to be undergoing this ordeal.

Between the two of us, KrA is the sure-footed one. I'm the one who suffered three ligament tears on the same ankle in a span of six years, ending up in a cast each time. The third time it happened, I was merely walking and my feet were clad in flat sandals.

KrA is the one who climbs up and down mountain rocks like a goat and inspires D to follow suit. D is quite an intrepid trail walker himself. As for me, I only need to stand three feet above ground for my legs to start shaking like jelly. It's definitely more psychological than physical, this fear, but I've always counted on KrA to not let that hinder him and D as they explore farther than I tend to.

Sleepless at 2 a.m., I gave in to worrying about how all this would change in the long-term, as that kept me from thinking about how I'd get through the next day, all the chores and being with D who had no school, it being a Saturday. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to handle it all by myself. Without family or any close friends living nearby, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed, and I really, really wished there was someone I could reach out to, even to just talk and let them  know how awful it was that KrA was hurt.

But there was another voice that piped up, a voice that has been making its presence known more often offlate, and reminded me of this little line from a poster that sits atop D's toy rack: "The present moment is all we have."

Funnily enough, from the moment D came to me after waking up the next morning until later that evening, when I finished doing the dishes and switched off the lights, then plonked on my bed and closed my eyes, I didn't have a moment to think. There was so much to be done there was no room for needless thought in my head. And for the first time in a long time, I lost myself in a long and deep sleep that night.

It's Sunday evening as I type this. Two days have passed, and we've survived. There was a lot of adjustment, a lot of problem-solving involved. D is truly the child to have in a crisis, the way he faced up to the situation and helped me, demanded that I give him jobs to do, and played more independently and brainstormed with us to figure out how to tackle a situation. We had planned an outing for Saturday, and he was quite disappointed at first that it wouldn't happen that day, but children have that innate ability to move on and not hold on to disappointments and past hurts and grudges.

All the trouble in our life ensues when we lose ourselves to the past or the future and steep ourselves in resentment or fear.

There is only thing being asked of me here. To show up for each moment to the best extent possible.

All I need to do is just that one thing that is the need of the moment, without making mental lists of all that needs to be done before the end of the day, without having imaginary conversations with people who are not physically present in my life in this very moment, without rehashing past incidents, both the fun times and the difficult ones, in my head.

If I can do what needs to be done at that given point in time, that is enough.
The little voice that reminded me that "the present moment is all we have" is truly my 2 a.m. friend.

For the longest time, KrA was my 2 a.m. friend. The one I could count on to always be there. I resigned from jobs so that I could be with him and not continents or even cities apart. For all my education and the degrees I have amassed, none of them have ever felt more important to me than he is.

It was the same when D came along. Everything else in life simply paled to insignificance. And I gave myself a lot of grief for feeling that way, for not being more ambitious, for not being mentally strong enough to do what career-minded, ambitious women do, for placing a relationship with another person above pursuits like career, wealth, fame, and even purpose.

Today, my 2 a.m. friend is that little voice which reminds me how awesome it is that I care so much for KrA and D, how amazing it is that I have two such people in my life to love, to care for, to attend to, to serve. Two people for whom I want to show up as my best self.

It is all a homecoming. Who am I becoming in this moment of pain and uncertainty?

Even as it takes me two days and a blog post to accept this situation in my head, KrA came to terms with it the day it happened. And he also gamely agreed to pose for a photograph each day, counting on his fingers the number of days passing us by. I have no idea what he'll do when we get to the double digits. But KrA, being who he is, will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Feature Image Attribution: Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash