Tunnels of Light


Sorry, I have not been able to write much lately. It is dark. It is dark in the morning when I run, it is dark in the evening when I make dinner. It is dark and gray even when it is daytime as the clouds billow and threaten, but don’t deliver, snow. When it is dark, I want to sleep. I don’t want to get out of bed and swim. I don’t even want to meet my faithful running partners and run. Winter should be for hibernation. My bed is full of pillows and down comforter, and I just want to burrow. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to face the world with a smile and jingle bell antlers that I don’t feel. But mostly, now I am in tunnels of darkness, and I am looking for the light.

When I lived in Tahoe, before I was with Jim, I lived with and loved a man who was an ICU nurse. He used to come home and tell me about the tunnels of light that his patients saw. These were folks that coded on the table. Dead by medical criteria. Nine times out of ten, they spoke of a tunnel of light, of meeting God, or friends and relations long dead. They, of course, chose to return from that light, and re-emerge into this life. Overwhelmingly, they talked of the peace that came with that light at the end of the tunnel. But, something drew them back.

For all of my life, when faced with hard decisions about my life, I have thought of it in respect to tunnels. Making a decision is hard. Once I make a decision, I always have the energy to follow through and do what needs to be done to make that decision a reality. But, making the decision is hard. After doing my homework of pros and cons, I’ve always had to sit with a couple of options, dive into both tunnels, feel the darkness, and then slowly look up. Which tunnel has light at the end of it? Where should I go? That small still voice has always let me know…as long as I give it the time and space to speak. I have to spend time in the tunnels of darkness for my eyes to adjust to finding the light.

This last week, I pulled old documents and pictures out of a box that has lived on my bookshelf for years. In it were pictures of my childhood, pictures of my parents before they had me, journals that my sister wrote during the time between I left home and she decided to move to Reno to be closer to me. She had to make a decision between staying in a dead-end job in WI with a room in the family house basement and a secure boyfriend, and moving to be closer to me, and to a new and exciting boy in her life. I told her about tunnels. Her journals reflect on the time spent in those tunnels. She chose to move. She died on the way. It broke my heart in many ways, and yet less than a year later I was back in the tunnels again.

I went home for Christmas to be with my mom and brother the year after my sister died. I couldn’t get the time off of work, so I quit my job. I reconnected with friends, and yes a boy, in the midwest. I also called Jim who invited me up to Oregon to “ski”. I went back to Tahoe. I was unemployed, and bought a ski pass. I went to Oregon for a weekend of skiing with Jim, and stayed nine days. I returned again to Tahoe, and entered the tunnels of darkness. Stay in Tahoe and build a new job? Move back to the midwest and enjoy the support of family and old friends? Move to Oregon and see what happens? There was only one tunnel that had light at the end of it. I moved to Oregon, had my own place and 3 job offers to choose from by the time I got there. I lived in the light at the end of that tunnel for the last 26 years.

Emerald is entering her last semester of college come January. She will not be home for Christmas this year, she got an invite for a Grand Canyon Trip. It will be cold, there will be many hours of darkness at this time of year. When she called me in July to tell me about the invite, and to kindly ask for permission to be absent for the holidays, I laughed. Of course she had to go…it is the Grand Canyon, and her daddy is dancing on her chest. But, as the time approaches, and as she ponders her future after college, I find I am glad for the darkness she will have. For her own time that she will spend in tunnels. I hope she can see light at the end of one, and figure out which direction to go.

I am again in the darkness. I am in tunnels and I am looking for the light. One tunnel is staying here, in this house, with my mom down the street and friends all around. This tunnel is the familiar of Moscow. There is work here, there are volunteer commitments that call me, there is a bunny eating dog, and a stable home base for my children. I could do as other folks have and settle into a love that looked much like the old one. Be a wife again. I am a good one. Or, I could say that part of my life is done. I could look to spread what I know, and the passions that I have, into a larger or different sphere. I could give up a secure place in this world with its down comforter and known routines for the unknown. I could date many men, or none. I am in these tunnels. I am looking for light. It doesn’t make for good and/or cheerful writing. Sorry.

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3 Responses to Tunnels of Light

  1. Phil Druker says:

    So who’s looking for cheerful writing? This is beautiful.

  2. cord4530 says:

    +1 what Phil said. Your writing has always captivated me. It beams with an openness, honesty, and self-awareness that is personal, intimate, and profound. There is no doubt that you will bring light to whichever tunnel you choose to venture.

  3. Lisa Offner says:

    So well written Kathy. What you write resonates with me once again. As you journey, you will emerge into more and more light… Thanks for writing.

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