My wife Sue and I lived in the same home for forty-eight years. We raised two children, Todd and Christa, in this house. We lived in a three bedroom, tri-level home with no basement in Burnsville, Minnesota. It was fun to listen to our children laugh, play, argue, and cry as they grew up. Gradually they got older, went to college, married, and raised their own families. No more children’s laughter or crying in our home. But after the kids’ departure, there were more adult discussions, storytelling, and laughter in our house.
Then Sue developed a serious illness involving a lot of pain. I helped her with this ordeal for twenty years. On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, we were sitting around the kitchen table laughing with the neighbors. Sue had sudden heart failure. Paramedics could not revive her. Her pain stopped.
From this point forward, silence has replaced sound in my home. The adjustment was long for me. The most difficult times at home for me now were the evenings. I would sit in the living room and relive the good times. Pausing, I would look up and see the walls creeping in towards me. I had to get out of the house.
The most difficult times at home for me now were the evenings. I would sit in the living room and relive the good times.
I would jump into the car and just drive. Sometimes I would stop at the local tavern to socialize and listen to sounds. It felt refreshing. An hour later,I would come home and prepare for bed. Going to bed was my hardest time…combining darkness and silence. I would slip into my bed and it would seem far larger then it use to. It seemed like I was getting lost in a black sea of unending desert sand. Reality only returned when the morning daylight came.
After falling asleep, I would wake up many times, hearing noises in the house. Each time I would get up and check the door locks. I had never done that before. I felt helpless that I couldn’t protect myself if someone was breaking in.
Finally, a friend gave me a silver pistol with a black handle. I had never fired a gun before. My friend showed me how to load and unload it and how to use the safety switch. I put the pistol on my bedroom nightstand.
After five nights, I gave the gun back to my friend. My fear of the gun had become greater then my fear of noises.
Days, weeks, and months passed. It has almost been two years alone in my house. Time heals some things, but not all. My anxiety with darkness and silence has diminished, but the walls still creep in. I now wake up less often to night noises, but still get lost in a large bed of unending dark desert sand.
About the writer
Pat Feely was raised in Highland Park in St. Paul, MN. He served as a teacher and assistant principal for Minneapolis Public Schools for over fifty years. His wife Sue was also a teacher. He coached high school and college athletes and is working on a memoir about his experiences as a coach.