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This I Believe: I Believe in Showering in the Dark

Melissa Rufus midshot
Beatrice Bonner
/
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Melissa Rufus - Hillsboro High School

The feeling of the water gliding effortlessly over my shoulders sends waves of calm through my body. My back presses up against the cold tile wall, seeking comfort in the contrasting temperatures. The dim light from the corner casts shadows that dance with the water droplets on the sliding glass door. Showering in the dark is peace.

It was a chilly Friday night in late October. I was on the way home from cheering at an away football game when I got an odd invitation. One of my friends was requesting a ride-along buddy while he was tilling bean fields. Making an effort to be more adventurous, I accepted. The bumpy ride was filled with laughter and sleepy country songs, but it was soon interrupted by an abrupt rainfall.

Hand in hand, we abandoned the tractor and sprinted towards his gray Silverado. My white cheer shoes were caked in mud. The air held the refreshing smell of wet earth. As we drove home, raindrops rolled down the windows. It seemed like each tiny droplet was in a hurry, like it was racing against the others or even against time itself. While the rest of the world slept, the rain sang a soothing song. Little did I know that this would be my final memory of my friend. His goofy smile, the feeling of his hand in mine as we raced through the slippery field, and the sound of the rain pelting the truck were the last moments I can recall in person before he decided to take his life.

Understandably, I was a mess. The hardest part about losing him was learning to find a place for myself in a world without him. In this process, I discovered showering with the lights off. The darkness that surrounds me as the water runs down my skin brings back the freeing run through the twilight field in the pouring rain. The droplets on the sliding glass door resurrect the rain rolling down the truck windows. This is where I come to be with him.

Over time, I’ve continued showering this way to grieve. To learn. To be able to continue growing as a person. More than that, it is a way to keep the memory of my friend alive in a way that only I can understand. I’ve realized that there is beauty in spending time with those who matter most because time is fleeting. Showering in the dark is more than just a coping mechanism. It has turned into a belief, comfort, and a way of life.

This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, State Journal-Register, BLH Computers, KEB, Marine Bank, and Roni Mohan of RE/MAX Professionals Springfield.

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