The day became brighter as the minutes passed. The illumination from the morning light slowly intensified as if a curtain was rising, transitioning to another scene in some play. I wish I could have been a fly on a wall tucked away in a crevice, discreet but with an unobtrusive view. I wanted to conceptualize the course of the proceeding night. There were no clues. Sirens did not blare to allude to its warning. Whistles never blew triggering a lead. Like all mysteries, it happened quietly.
I will never forget Easter morning, 1983. The sunlight beamed through closed blinds. The rays protruded through the cracks. I distinctly remember particles of dust shimmying and whirling above my bedspread. Silhouettes from backyard plantation projected shadows on the walls. The birds were chirping as they sat perched upon the windowsill. The water gushed through pipes transmitting a constant drone that initiated tranquility. I wanted to roll over, go back to sleep, but I lay still – rocking to and fro as the waterbed sloshed.
Her footsteps grew louder the closer and closer she came. My mom jangled the doorknob, cranked it, gently swinging my bedroom door upon its hinges. She bid me good morning, closed the door, and was soon heard ambling back down the hallway. The mood seemed to forecast the standard holiday cheer: opening cellophane wrappers from gifts placed in Easter baskets; attending church; and the entire family congregating to celebrate the festivities. The only thing different… This particular Easter marked my mom, her twin sister, and my step dad’s birthday. But wait, there would be more.
The stillness shifted to panic the precise moment I stood. My neck buckled underneath an insurmountable weight that felt like a ton of bricks, springing my head forward as if on a pulley. My chin instantly latched onto my chest like a magnet and under no circumstance would relinquish its hold. The friction to lift my head back to its rightful position was beyond any strength I had ever known. It was a constant tug of war of push, then pull. My head finally just dangled in surrender, weakened by such a magnitude of force.
It changed me forever. Alone, and as an eighth grade student, I thought my life was over. A few months later I would be diagnosed with an extremely rare muscle and nerve disease that shattered my reality into fragments. A terror so gripping that it begged the question: What would have happened if I never went to sleep the night before?