Call it crazy or strange or weird, but the other night when I went to bed I had hardly closed my eyes when I heard footsteps. It seemed as if someone was climbing the stairs to our house. I could hear the footsteps getting closer and closer and I was frightened and for some strange reason waiting for whoever it was on the other side to open the door.
And in my on and off state of sleep I called my son and told him that someone was on our stairs trying to open the door. Of course there was no one. But the feeling of dread and fright that the experience left me with was overwhelming.
Ronald Reagan once said:
“There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.”
The sound of footsteps of our loved ones. When I was a little girl my father, may he rest in peace, used to travel for his work. On days that he came home late after I had gone to bed I would somehow hear his footsteps in my sleep and a warm feeling of safety and peace would engulf me. Later when the civil war started in Lebanon and when in the middle of the night I would be awakened by the sound of footsteps (of people) on the street outside, and hear my father’s footsteps moving restlessly inside the house and I would know that something was wrong.
Years went by and I moved to Dubai. No matter what time of the day or night when I heard the sound of my husband’s footsteps at the door a feeling of comfort and happiness would come over me. In the words of Helen Keller:
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
During my last visit to my parents in the summer of 2010 I noticed how changed the sound of my father’s footsteps had become and I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for that sound to absolutely stop. My father was eighty years old, seven times a grandfather. He was ailing and ‘ready to go, ready to leave this world, he had paid all his dues and done his part’, that’s what he said that summer when I saw him for the last time.
Here in Montreal life continued for me in more or less the same way and my habits didn’t change. I listened to the sound of my husband’s footsteps on the stairs. And every time he opened the door I would experience the same feeling of calm and relief and delight.
But the other night the sound of the footsteps did not bring me any comfort. On the contrary it left me with a feeling of disappointment and dread. In my half sleep I realized that I would never hear my husband’s footsteps again for as long as I live. Unlike my father, he had so much to see and do and give and live for.
And now I realize more than ever how fast time goes by, and how people we love go in and out of our life so quickly and so unexpectedly. Sometimes we feel them close to us. I know I do, and I am sure they are. And I know I will be with them some day perhaps in a better world than this. I only have to carry on with my responsibilities and:
“Remember, most of us got something for nothing the first time just by showing up here at birth. Now we have to qualify.” Robert Fulghum