Looking out the window I noticed the lake was now free from any wild life. Much to my surprise a very thin blanket of ice spotted the now peaceful frigid water. Reminding me even more of autumns presence and the chill that has invaded the air. I shivered quietly, as I looked over the yard. The clouds were grey and delivered a slight gloom across the open horizon. The somberness of the day could not be denied. Nature had carried on with out hesitation. A coverlet of frost camouflaged the once lush green plant life that cascaded a long my shore line, beckoning the onset of the winter to come. This time of year always put me in deep thought, and I tried hard to fight the memories that silently stirred with in me. The coming of Thanksgiving left with me so much more than thinking of things to be thankful for, it also stood as a reminder for me how vulnerable we all can be. A personal challenge I still fought secretly alone to overcome.
It had been several years since the break in, and yet every year briefly at this time, I find my self wrestling with emotions that I had hoped I would be free of by now. I wanted so desperately to move past the anxiety that haunted me every November. Now settled into a new home here it was again, as if only to remind me, for mere moments, how exposed and vulnerable we all are to nefarious acts of this world. Leaving me amidst my thoughts, dragging me back to a time where my courage and strength were met with great challenge.
I have always admired people who face their fears. Claiming weakness that stirs with in them and then commanding courage, allowing them to put forth strength, in order to move past diabolical situations. I had decided it was time for me to attempt this. Perhaps, if I allowed myself to finally except my fear and sift through my memories of that cold November morning, when I stood face to face with my intruder. Divest of all clothing, clad in just a small robe, I might just be able to free myself of an unwanted memory. Perhaps I too, would finally begin to quell my own trepidation. With the heat of anguish now beginning to fill me at an alarming rate, I let my thoughts travel backward.
It was near the end of November, a few days before Thanksgiving. I was going through a rancorous divorce and found myself most days almost overwhelmed. Consumed with raising three children on my own, two with a fatal disease and eagerly trying to earn more income by day caring for my niece. I had just awoken my great niece up from a nap, and was optimistic with helping her to be bathroom trained. While she sat comfortably on her potty chair in my upstairs bathroom, I decided I would take a quick shower next to her. I stood under the warm spray, feeling the water run down me as I listened to her chant parts of a song we had sang together from the radio, a day earlier. Just as I felt parts of me relax, under the tepid water, I heard a my dog Share, who was also shut in the bathroom with us, begin to bark loudly, towards the locked bathroom door. Before I even had time to wonder what had alarmed her, what seem to resemble the sound of a wall being knocked down, impelled my own fears. With in an instant I shut the water off. Frantically I grabbed for a robe to put around me, and with what ever calmness I had available, I insisted my little niece to stay put, until I came for her. Fear enveloping me, I opened the bathroom door. Knowing I had to anatomize what was happening, swiftly I moved down the hall. Share my small Pomeranian bolted ahead of me, as if it was her job to investigate. She flew down the stairs growling. By the time I had made it half way down the steps her barking ceased, and so did the shaking of my walls. Just as I reached the bottom of the stair case I peered around the corner, only to see my dog laying on her back, silent and motionless. Seeing her lay there, legs stiff and in the air held me captive. Panic flooded me as I began to look up. A cross the room from me now stood an intruder. Hardly aware that I had little to defend myself with, I began screaming and wildly lunging toward him. The strength that came from me was more than my own. Driven by sheer panic that he had killed my dog, and meant harm to me and my beautiful niece, was enough for me to act in whatever way I needed, to keep us safe and to survive this invasion. He fled.
Some times our minds have a way to help us cope with traumatic events, by allowing us to forget pieces. While we remember the facts, details slowly detach themselves. I can remember screaming and pushing. But I can not recall my intruders face, or if he shoved back. I vividly remember seeing him in my house with in feet of me. I remember he had dark short hair but everything else about him seemed average and faded. I can still see the busted frame around my front door, from using great force to enter. My steel door hardly showed a dent from the break in, but the actual frame itself laid so shattered in pieces on the floor of my entry way that the door could not close after his retreat.
My locked dead bolt had did its job in keeping my door locked, but in doing so also managed to take the door frame down with the fierce intrusion. I will forever see the image of my dog as she laid motionless and the way she shook after coming too.
I have to share I shunned at the awkwardness I felt, writing this down for the first time. Feeling that if I exposed my story, I may only make myself a victim again. Or that in someway I would be scrutinized for my reactions. For in truth, deep down inside I do need to let go of the guilt, and the fear I have cradled inside of me for years. Guilt because I often wondered, did I in someway draw the attention to myself, as was suggested to me by a few people, because of my appearance and recent entry into the dating world. Secondly fear because my intruder was never caught. He broke in through the front door, mid morning, as though he was not afraid to be caught, and also fear because I could not ID him. One true thing that I had held on to over the years however, was, that I had managed to chase this man away, wet and clothed in only a small robe, that my dog had only been knocked out and not killed. What could have been a thousand times worse ended with out bodily harm to myself or my niece.
My niece has no real memory of that November morning. By the time her own fears drove her to seek out my where a bouts we were alone again, and waiting for the police. I now live in a different home. I have no issues with being home alone or showering. I hang on to the fact we were very lucky that day and try not to dwell on why it happened at all.
So as with every Thanksgiving I give thanks to the grace that surrounds me that morning and every morning.