One night when I was about 7 or 8, I awoke convinced that a bear was under my bed. I turned to my sister, three years younger for moral support. But, she slept deeply and soundlessly. My heart pounding, I shouted “Mom. There is a bear under my bed.” With the third ear of mothers everywhere, she heard my cry and came rushing into our room. She stood silhouetted against the moon lit window. (I lived in the era before the invention of night-lights.) In a tired but kind, soft voice Mother assured me that no bear was under my bed. “But, I heard it!” I insisted.
Mother took a breath and said, “It was probably the wind. Think about angels and fairies and go to sleep.” I was a sucker for adult assurances and suggestions. Why not? My Mother was never wrong. Just her presence slowed my heartbeat that night and many other times. So, I imagined angels and fairies dancing on our lawn. Probably, before my Mother returned to my parents bedroom, I was fast asleep.
Throughout my childhood and long into my adulthood, when life was its darkest, my Mother was always there. Mother made me feel secure. She always had a piece of advice that lifted me out of my perceived or real problems. She was my night-light.
Now, in my waning years, I am a widow living in a big apartment complex. The other night, I woke feeling thirsty. As I made my way in the dark to the kitchen, I passed my apartment door that lead to the outer hall of the seventh floor. From under the doorway, a tiny shaft of light played over my feet.
This was my new night-light. It reminded me that I was not alone. That all around me neighbors were just a call away. I went back to bed remembering my loved ones and counting my blessings.