The wind howls like a thousand ambulance sirens. I lie in bed, shoulders tense, jaw tightened. I toss and turn until the sheets are tangled. At some point, I fall back to sleep. That's when the sirens become ghosts.
A few weeks ago when I spoke to the staff at Hershey Medical Center, I told them that over time it’s possible to organize traumatic memories. To tuck them neatly away. To take them out when I want them, not when they want me.
Of course, that's not entirely true. Sometimes the ghosts sneak out.
This night does. The wind shrieks. I toss and turn, and clench my jaw some more. At 3 a.m. I get out of bed. Grab an empty bag. Stuff my pillow, fleece blanket, iPad, phone, and water bottle into it. I do these things in pajamas, barefoot, balancing on my right leg. Then I shove the bag onto my shoulder and crutch into the spare bedroom. It's smaller and quieter in there, somehow safer because it has no windows.
When I tell him the story of the windy night, we end up laughing about the tiny futon. I tell him I never could have fit on it with 2 legs!
More than three years later, there are still a few ghosts.
When they visit, I have to hunker down and bite the bullet -- although it might land me at the dentist.