There were a few overhead lights in the house, turned on with wall switches, but all of the lamps were packed by the movers and put into storage earlier in the day.  I knew that the house would be pretty dark when I came home from dinner that last night from my neighbor’s house around the corner.  She kindly lent me a battery-power lantern with a very bright, although slightly bluish, LED light, something she had bought in anticipation of a power failure from Hurricane Irene.

I felt like a character in a Dickens novel walking up to this 1870 house with the lantern in my hand.  My literary reference was helped by the fact that a light rain had just begun to fall and on this cold, damp night in January, Brooklyn could almost feel like London.

I came in through the ground floor entrance, as usual.  Fortunately, that ground floor front room, used as a family room, had a wall switch with an overhead light, as did the kitchen and all the stairways.  The “front room”, as we called it, was totally bare.

I walked into the kitchen, where I had left the 2 suitcases and 6 big Ikea shopping bags filled with the food from the pantry, and other household things, that I’d be taking to the temporary apartment the next day.

With lantern in hand, I turned out the ground floor lights and walked up the stairs to the parlor.  Everything was gone except for a stack of cartons with books my son was picking up over the weekend.  With 12′ ceilings on that parlor floor, all the sounds I made echoed.

I stood in front of the dining room, also bare, and visualized Thanksgiving, with a full table around which sat many family members.  My husband sat at the head. I had a mental flashback to one of my favorite childhood movies, “How Green Was My Valley,” a tear-jerker set in a Welsh mining town, but it had obviously imprinted in my memory a visual depiction of the relentless march of time in a family’s narrative.  I was part of that same script now and the ghosts of the past were all around me.

I continued up the stairs and knew that the bedroom would be an emotional ground zero.  Fortunately, a 60 watt ceiling fixture with a wall switch was above an old marble sink set between two closets.  The room was bare except for the bed and my husband’s dresser, which my son was also keeping.  I put the lantern down on the dresser and turned it on. Its bluish light made the room look cold, and, honestly, a bit foreboding, so I decided to made do with the yellowish light from the 60 watt incandescent bulb.

Unfortunately, the sink light switch was a good 12 feet from the bed, and without the lantern on, the trip to the bed was totally dark.

I had begun to instinctively numerate all the “lasts”, including the last time I’d be getting into that bed, which was going to be picked up the next day to go to a dump. Lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling was when all the emotional upheaval of this day finally came out.  And through it all, I tried very hard to remind myself of something I told both my son and daughter countless times when they were little, that after the darkness there will come the morning.

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