ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 196: Aloneness
My first thought in the morning, even before realizing I’m thinking, is: I am alone.
This thought brings on a feeling of fear. It brings a thud to my stomach.
My Twelve-Step friends talk of answering this fear with the knowledge that they aren’t alone, that their Higher Power is always with them. But this doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe in a Higher Power — at least, not a higher power that is a Supernatural Being.
Ernie welcomed the light of morning — it meant he had made it through another night. He feared the dark. He didn’t want Hoot Owl to leave the bed. If I did, and he awakened and found me gone, he came looking for me. “I can’t sleep without you,” he’d say. And I’d say: “Oh yes you can. You just don’t think you can.” It was the answer I flipped back to him, without thinking. Just another one of my automatics.
Only once did I get into the hospital bed with him. This was after he lost the power of speech, of all movement, when he couldn’t blink his eye or move his tongue. He stared out at nothing, but his mind was not frozen, not entirely, and he could still hear. Joshua wanted to take him home. “Christy and I will make room for a hospital bed. We’ll have music going and candles burning. I don’t want Daddy to stay in this hospital any longer.”
This is when I finally lay next to you. “We’re taking you home, Ernie. Is that what you want? I think it’s what you want. Joshua and Christy will prepare the living room for you. We’ll call an ambulance. We’ll take you home to be with your writing and your books and your paintings.”
I don’t remember hugging you, even then, or kissing you, and you didn’t have the power to touch me or even to blink a reply. But your heard me. I know you heard me.