Karolyn Sherwood, Author

The Most Important Thing of All

It’s easy, fun, smart to post happy news, positive outlooks, positive outcomes.
It’s difficult to post bad news.

But sometimes, shit happens.

My husband and I just returned home after five weeks in Costa Rica, five out of our planned eleven weeks. Our home was robbed while we were there, asleep. A home invasion.

We are safe, and we know that’s the most important thing of all, but I can truly say we were shaken to the core. The bad guys, “los hombres malos,” came into our bedroom and stole our iPads from our beside tables. Inches from our faces.

I wrote about it. I had to. The feelings, emotions, fear, they haven’t let go. Even now, almost a week later, as I type this, my throat tightens and my eyes well with tears because I realize how close I was to never coming home, never talking to my children again, never saying “I love you” again, to anyone. You may find this melodramatic, unless you’ve been violated or felt absolutely vulnerable to evil. Then you might remember how this feels.

Los Hombres Malos

Sound asleep, wake to a noise, the unmistakeable noise, of a person, an unknown person, 
a bad person, close.
“There’s someone in our kitchen.”
Try to wake up, stumble to the door, turn on a light, face to face with a masked man.
Shouting, anger, the fear and primal rage of two grown men—
one fueled to survive, the other to save his wife.
Protect ourselves; hide; find a weapon. 
Now wait. Let them leave.
Long enough? No, wait. Wait. Okay, ready? Ready.
Quiet preparation, caution, caution, exploration.
Are they gone? Gone?
Are we sure?
Grab shoes, phones, keys—now get out! Call the police. 
What? What’s that? Don’t you speak any English?
Anger, fear, frustration—unleashed.
Slowly, finally, help.
A foreign country, a foreign language, a foreign system.
A helpless, total realization of vulnerability.
Then the visions.
They were standing over us, over me, in the dark, while we slept.
Pillows, fluffy and white, and capable of death.
Or a knife, or a gloved hand against my throat.
Or worse.
All for an iPad, or two.
Then a guard, a man, another strange man, with a gun.
This one’s on our side. Right?
Try to sleep, in the dark, in the same bed.
A noise. A branch in the wind? A bird?
No more sleep.
Take an inventory, make a list. What’s missing?
This, that, those too.
Counting. Still counting. And more—how bizarre… soap?
But nothing rivals our peace of mind. It’s gone. All gone.
Moving on. Chopping vegetables while detectives roam the house, 
dusting for fingerprints, black dust.
Everywhere.
Okay. We’re okay. We can do this. We can replace it all.
All except a sense of peace.
We can stay. Limp along. Make changes.
No. Why?
We’re better than this. We don’t have to endure.
This isn’t normal. This wasn’t our fault. We did everything right.
We have options. We’re in charge.
Not los hombres malos.
We are safe. We are smart. We are in charge.
We’re going home. We live in the United States. We’re okay.
But, what if?
What if panic, instinct, fear, surprise, madness took over?
What if “something went wrong”, “that wasn’t supposed to happen”?
Feel your neck.
Imagine someone else feeling your neck.
With their hands. With their knife.
Feel your heart.
Feel it stop.
Close your eyes.
Never open them.

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