You light up my life
Friday December 03rd 2021, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

About a year ago, the good folks next door were the ones whose house had the hammering and the pounding going on for several months.

They had decided to expand and divide to use a bedroom and the new space to create an Additional Dwelling Unit along the side of their house closest to us so that they could have a caretaker in their old age who could have their own apartment, taking advantage of California’s newfound enthusiasm for ADUs.

Their two kids have stayed there while visiting but I don’t think a full-time caretaker ever did because Jim was still well enough to carry the load.

He died at 86 a few months ago.

She has cancer, he was her caretaker, and I quite worry about her but she is not one to share details to non-family nor to want to be helped.

Thanksgiving brought lots of cars for a few days.

And one of those people turned on the light that got installed at the side of the house during construction. (That’s a daytime picture.) The light that Jim had turned downward a little bit after we’d requested, back when it was new, but it’s still bright as ever.

I was looking at the super-bright LED street light yesterday, then theirs, and back again, and decided the street light was indeed  louder–but not by a lot. It’s simply bigger.

Theirs is a spotlight straight on Michelle’s face at night when she’s here and it lights up our bedroom, too. And I mean really lights it up.

So we have now had a full week of restless sleep for him and almost no sleep for me as I look at the clock every single hour, hour after hour, wishing I could shut that thing off while I toss and turn. In all the years we’ve lived here, in all the city light reflected off the winter fog, it’s never been like this.

Yes I could wear an eye mask–but I’ve never found a comfortable one and the recent cornea flare makes me highly reluctant to put something on that will have my eyelashes brushing against both it and my eyes all night.

Yes I could put up black-out curtains, heavier than the two-layered ones we have now–but we have transom windows as well and to cut those off would imprison the room entirely. I like waking up to tree branches and birds in the morning and a chance to check out the clouds. The architect designed that added-on room to be free of neighbors’ lights. At the time.

I sent her an email. I didn’t know if she could even walk across the house to her computer to read it, so I was really glad to see her slowly walking to her door a few days ago with two people carefully watching, arms out, ready to catch her at every frail step, and that she was upright or at least was just then–for her sake, because it’s so much better than being bed bound.

But it made it clear the answer to my question was, not really. Not readily.

The light stayed on.

I dropped off some of the other neighbor’s homegrown persimmons yesterday and a condolence card (with a short aside of, about that light, that I hoped wasn’t horribly misplaced) hoping that a caregiver would stop by and pick them up for her.

The persimmons didn’t move.

I checked: did I have her kids’ phone numbers? I had her daughter’s.

No response. But then who answers strange numbers these days. I was afraid to call my neighbor herself because I know how important rest is when the body absolutely demands it; I’ve been there. And how would she get up the energy to talk loud enough for my ears?

The light stayed on. It bounced off the white walls and the mirror and straight into the eyeballs.

I googled for ordinances about light pollution, and it may in fact be in violation, although residences have more leeway than businesses. But I know what it’s like to be in sheer survival mode when very very sick, and getting up to flip a switch a few rooms over is I’m guessing from what I saw just too much energy to expend with too great a risk of falling.

I can’t imagine living alone like that, though.

I finally fell asleep last night before 3 a.m., and that would be a small triumph and great improvement, except that I don’t hear my alarm clock and don’t always feel the vibrations either and my husband knows that and he knows I have to deal with all the ileostomy dressing/shower/get ready stuff before the crew shows up to work and walks around our roof with the skylight in the master bath, etc etc, so in his sleep he helpfully gave me a small nudge, and then another, to help me wake up in time. It’s our routine for when my alarm is waking up the wrong person.

Because sunrise is to the left side of the room and the left side especially was lit up nice and bright just like it had the previous six nights as if it were past dawn, even though by now I had barricaded the farthest window with a very large flat box and a big green plastic cutting board, the kind you use with roller scissors; it wasn’t much between them but at least it was something.

So here I was at 3 a.m. for the seventh night running. It would have been the blissfully dark night of a new moon but for that stupid light. I did not fall back to sleep in the slightest and at 6:45 gave up and got up.

You know, I really really don’t want to try for a second heart attack. This is getting old. So. Tired.

Those persimmons and note disappeared from her door today, finally. I can just picture the note being slid over by a caretaker to somewhere where she can read it when she has the energy to. Which she might well not.

The light was still on.

I noted the trashcan was still on the curb since Wednesday and nobody had taken care of it for her. I pulled it up against her shed. I had offered before and Jim had always turned me down but he’s not here now and that, at least, I could do for his beloved wife.

It appears someone is in the ADU right now.

The light is still on.

(And now you see why I needed that happy picture of my dad yesterday so much.)

7 Comments so far
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Oh, so frustrating. You shouldn’t have to, but I wonder if your construction guys could attach a sheet of sturdy material to the top of the fence just big enough to block the direct light. You’d still have the annoyance of the surrounding light, but at least the bulb wouldn’t shine directly into your face.

Another thought, perhaps the daughter’s number is a cell phone and you could send a text instead of calling?

Good luck!

Comment by twinsetellen 12.03.21 @ 11:49 pm

I agree with previous comment. Perhaps a frame with slats, and maybe a bench you can sit on… or planter.

As for keeping you up, been there. We had neighbors behind us whose outdoor light shone directly into my bedroom. Eventually they renovated and put in lights aimed down.

Comment by Anne 12.04.21 @ 12:42 am

Oh…how frustrating it must be, and with her being so frail, and you being probably the kindest and most thoughtful person alive.

FYI: there are sleep masks that are made with “cups” so that they don’t touch your eyes.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 12.04.21 @ 8:03 am

The school next door put in massive spots on the playground this summer. They light up every room on this side of the building past the north edge of the school all night. Set just right to shine in 16 apartments. I don’t know whether we should get up a petition to the school district or what, but it became old the first week. Light polution! I’m afraid that the few lightening bugs living in the area won’t be able to continue. The park just beyond the school have also added super bright lights. sigh

Comment by Mary 12.04.21 @ 1:36 pm

Oh, no! So frustrating. You don’t want to add to her problems, but it’s causing such problems for you! I have no answers, but much sympathy.

Comment by ccr in MA 12.04.21 @ 6:09 pm

I so understand your care for her, but something must be done before you and/or Richard suffer more. I suspect there might be fence height limit, but maybe like Twinsetellen suggested, the construction crew can put up a small blocking piece, until you can reach the caregiver to see if the light can be turned down farther.

Comment by DebbieR 12.04.21 @ 9:14 pm

I’m so sorry the situation has not improved.

I bet you won’t feel the same way, anymore, about seeing light at the end of a tunnel, huh?

Please don’t have another heart attack!

Comment by Suzanne 12.05.21 @ 8:52 am

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