At 2 AM on a Saturday the ringing of the doorbell punctured my deep sleep. I sat up in bed, instantly awake.
“There’s somebody at the door,” I announced, waiting for my husband, the hero and protector of my life, to rush down the stairs. He stirred, mumbled, and breathed deeply, sinking back down into the depths of slumber.
Well, what did I expect? My husband is a kind, generous and loving man. But I’ll tell you which one of us, when our children were small, was able to hear and respond the instant they called out in the night, and it wasn’t him. I’ve often wished for his ability to sleep through anything, even his own snoring. But then who would answer the door in the middle of the night?
I hesitated. Maybe the sound that woke me was in a dream. Nope, the unmistakably real chime of the doorbell echoed through the house again. Somebody was out there and that somebody was not going away.
Feeling very much on my own I leaped out of bed and ran downstairs, convinced that a messenger of doom was on the doorstep. Because neither of our children were at home. The oldest was off at college, presumably asleep in her dorm, but who knew for sure? The other was 200 miles away at a music festival with his high school jazz band. Obviously one of them was kidnapped or missing or dead.
Time is a strange thing. In the few seconds it took me to run down the stairs I aged at least five years. Five years gone, just like that. When I opened the door my life would be changed forever. I steeled myself for the worst possible news.
With my heart in my throat (a trite, overused phrase, but in this case nothing else describes the smothering feeling of breathlessness and pounding heart, overlaid with terror and dread), I peeked out the narrow window that flanks the front door. Sure enough, a police officer, a being never before seen on my porch, had materialized. I flipped the deadbolt and turned the knob. This was it.
The officer was a sweet young man who, if he had kids, hadn’t yet reached the stage of needing to wonder where they were in the middle of the night. He looked happy and carefree. “Ma’am,” he said cheerfully, “did you know that your garage door is open?”
I stared at him. An open garage door? For this he got me out of bed in the dead of night and nearly gave me a stroke?
Let me tell you who’d failed to close the garage door that evening. It wasn’t me.
“There’ve been a string of garage break-ins in the neighborhood,” he continued, oblivious. “Just checking to make sure everything is okay.”
“Thanks,” I managed, reeling from the giddiness of gratitude and relief at the resurrection of my children. My adrenaline levels plummeted to normal and I felt exhausted. I needed to get back to bed and begin my recovery.
“Why don’t you go take a look and see if anything is missing,” he suggested. Very thorough, this police officer.
If the cars were still there, everything was fine as far as I was concerned. They were. I hit the button to close the door and returned to the officer. “Looks good,” I told him.
“What’s going on?” my hero asked, when I climbed back into bed. Oh perfect, NOW he was awake.
I’ll tell you who it was that for many months thereafter checked the garage door the last thing every night. Surprisingly (or not), it wasn’t him.
*This account has been verified for accuracy and approved for publication by my kind, generous and loving husband.