The Rooftop

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story

It began as one of those days that anything could happen, ANYTHING!

Life felt real hard that day and deep in my gut, I knew that if I were open, something transformative would happen and I would be awakened to a new perspective.

Change is hard, letting go I think is even harder. This day was full of a lot of both.

The routine of life felt like trudging knee deep in a muddy river. I was breathing a lot, deep breathing to remain calm and working hard to do the next right thing. Focusing on my breath going in and out. On most days, this routine would keep fear from completely consuming me.

The reality of our situation and all of the change was just about more than we could handle. We were being faced with the utter and complete disassembly of the life we knew. Although what we had was uncomfortable, it still was predictable and familiar.

The neighborhood, the school, the view from our home and the people were all changing.

During this time, the rooftop of our 1950s ranch style home became a place where my children (14 & 15 years) would escape to.

Many nights I would know they were making their way to the top of our home as I could hear the crunching and sometimes muffled footsteps as their feet crossed to a resting place and their bums settled in.

When this first started happening I thought how strange, this must be unsafe and what would the neighbors say. During this time I tried repeatedly to explain to them how this ritual was highly inappropriate.

Then one day I had an intuitive thought, it said: "what's the big deal anyway". From that moment on, I stopped trying to get them to come down. It never really worked anyway, they just stared at me not responding or said please, please just another half hour.

For the longest time, I was not sure what they were doing up there. I pretty much left them alone. On occasion I had people texting or calling, saying I see your children on the roof or I saw them as I pulled away from your house. I said, I know it's OK. Sometimes they would invite a friend to join them but mostly it was just the two of them sitting next to each other.

I felt as though the roof was like a clubhouse for them with no walls. It brought them closer to the stars and the moon and the darkness of the night and gave them a different perspective that helped them get through what seemed to be so impossible and deeply painful in unimaginable ways.

Then on this day, when I knew anything was possible, I too found myself on the rooftop.

My daughter made her way up there. I heard her footsteps and this night I heard her crying as she tried to escape what was breaking her heart.

As a mother, I knew I had to go to her. I knew she needed to know that there was hope and everything would eventually be better. I knew she couldn't see it and I had to carry that light to her.

Then it hit me, how would I get up there? Could I get up there? What if I fall? What if I can't get down? What if the neighbors see me? I abandoned all of those thoughts along with my shoes and in my work clothes I went to the back of my suburban and assessed what my next steps would be. The vehicle was parked partially under a carport and from the top front of my automobile I was sure I could get myself onto the roof.

I focused solely on my daughter, quietly sobbing, and huddled in the dark.

I crawled up the back of the suburban, placed my foot on the windshield wiper, and raised myself to the top of the car. In a crouched position, I shimmied the length to the edge of the roof. One barefoot after another I worked my way to her. She came into sight at the highest peak, eyes wide and focused on me with a bit of disbelief.

She was receptive to my embrace and continued to release her pain as I held her there in the darkness. I don't know how long we were there, it felt like an eternity. I spoke no words and clung, gently patting her until she was done. She then turned to me and said “I'm going down” and quickly got up as she had done many times before and effortlessly worked her way to the ground below.

So, there I was on the rooftop.

All I can say is what happened up there was nothing short of amazing and a miracle. I too then started to sob as I sat there alone. I raised my face and began to slowly gaze upon everything that my eyes could see. It was simply beautiful. I had lived in that home for 15 years and had never been given the opportunity to see what my little world looked like from that angle. Street lights, car lights, warm glowing lights from inside people's homes and the moonlight shining brightly literally warmed my soul.

With my eyes, I traced the outline of the roof of the place I had lived and all the years flashed before me. So many memories good and bad happened under that roof. I knew deep in my soul this was the place that I was to say goodbye to what was and let go so there would be space to look to the future. Knowing this home of ours was sold, going to be torn down and something new built in its place caused an urgency for me to take it all in.

That night on the roof made me stronger as I opened my heart to possibility, let go of what was and gained the courage to keep going. But the very most important thing that happened was the connection I made with my daughter. I didn't take away her pain but felt it with her and let her know she was not alone and all was not hopeless.

I think about how that rooftop and my experience that day changed a part of us forever. It truly was a clubhouse giving us strength, comfort, and love. Anything is possible.