The Dark of Night

I have generally always been an early to bed, early to rise person, lucky if I can make it to 10 p.m. on a weekend, let alone a weekday, and having a 5 a.m. wake up time has programmed by body to almost never sleep past 7:00 (not that I ever get the opportunity).

Recently though, I have seen hours of the night and morning I rarely have before.  In our house, we now have a 4-month old puppy (Charlie) with a confused sense of night and day.  You can find our adorable ball of fur soundly sleeping at noon and ready to romp at midnight.  

Our midnight romps are not all bad, though, and have come with plenty of lessons-learned.  I have learned that 1 a.m. is the best time for catching bugs, our street is most quiet at 2 a.m., and at 4 a.m., the trees lining our yard are bursting with birds singing spectacular songs.  But needless to say, it has required some adjustment on my part.

It was during one of our recent morning trips outside before the sun was awake, when I learned an unexpected lesson.  Something was different this time as our usually-eager Charlie didn’t immediately let his nose guide the way, try catching bugs in his mouth, eat sticks, or romp in the grass; he just stood completely still.  In my annoyance and haste to get back to sleep, I tried (unsuccessfully) coaxing him to hurry up and do his business.  Then I realized that not only would he not move his body, but his eyes were fixated in the direction to my right.

Armed with nothing but a flashlight, I started to shine the light in the direction he was staring and could instantly see.  There it sat.  Two glowing eyes.  Pointy ears.  A glare in our direction that chilled my body like fresh morning dew.

My brain took a second to process the moment before it all made sense; the unusual howling sounds from the night before, the fear of our otherwise happy puppy, the uncommon quiet for this time of morning.  My 8-pound puppy was in a 20-foot stare-down with a coyote!   

My flight response went into overdrive as I scooped him up, headed inside, dead-bolted the door, and visited every window in our house to get another glimpse; but he was gone.  

Soon the sun would slowly raise it's weary head from slumber and time would come for my drive to work.  On this particular morning, the low-hanging clouds were illuminated by the rising sun, creating a blanket of baby blues and pinks that felt as though I was swaddled in its arms; a stark contrast to just hours before.

With the coyote now a part of my foggy night memory, I would tell my can you believe it? story to family and friends as a part of ancient history, at least until our next dark-of-night trip.

Convinced the coyote would certainly return for a breakfast of puppy with a side of human, I approached the next several nights of dark like a SWAT team member, turning every corner with my flashlight poised like a gun, somehow believing that if I could see the coyote, it couldn’t hurt us. 

At times, I feel as though this is how I have lived my life - watching from a distance with fear, anxiety, terror about what is or what is about to come, turning each new corner with apprehension.

So many times we find ourselves in the terrifying dark of night, seemingly staring straight into the eyes of danger.  Whether it’s depression, divorce, or death of a loved one; financial fears, work worries, or general uncertainty about the future, allowing the darkness to wrap itself around us as we fall backwards towards its mouth will surely consume us. 

But - if we choose to remember that darkness is always followed by daybreak, we allow in just enough light to help us see our way through.