Phoebe from friends

Looking for Someone to Change the Battery in the Smoke Detector

A couple weeks ago I broke down over what felt like the dumbest thing to lose it on. I had already had some things cross my path that should’ve made me cry, and they didn’t… but there I was curled up in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out. What was it over? I was struggling to change the batteries in the smoke detectors in my apartment! I have higher ceilings at home and I’m a short 5’2″ woman, though with my ladder I have no problem reaching the light bulbs, hanging things on the walls, etc. This however was the first time I can recall struggling to change the smoke detectors.

It was after hours, so I couldn’t call maintenance, I actually had to rush next door to the store to buy 9V batteries, AND THEN it hits me. Even with my ladder I could not reach the freakin smoke detector with ease! I struggled with it for about an hour… and not one, not two but THREE of them were out. Not only was this a harsh reminder that my husband was dead and couldn’t do it for me (although, with his cancer, he wouldn’t have been able to anyhow), but I had just recently broken up with my 6’4″ boyfriend and all I could think about was “if only he had been here, he could’ve done it for me”. I personally am a do it yourself type, I fix a lot of things, I have done construction in homes, I freakin’ uninstalled a hydraulic lift out of a giant entertainment center by myself with no one even home. But there I was hearing the constant “chirp, chirp” every few seconds because these three stupid things couldn’t at least do it all at one time. I could pull the battery out of the detector, but I couldn’t see which way and at what angle to put it in. I hurt my neck, back and arm from reaching the wrong way, it was bad y’all. I was seeing in my mind that at any minute I was going to get to my breaking point & I saw myself as Phoebe ready to throw it down the trash chute (except I don’t have one).

I did finally succeed, I stretched my arm as far as it could go and flipped that battery every way possible until it connected & then proceeded to the other 2. I felt exhausted, but accomplished when it was all said and done. It wasn’t that I ever doubted I could do it, I knew I could figure it out. It was the fact that I was tired prior to needing to do it, and now I was beyond tired. As a widow, I think that’s my biggest struggle; the exhaustion. There are so many kinds of exhaustions we face: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual… and they can all hit you at once and unrelentingly so. Those things we used to go to our spouses for, we can’t anymore, and in those moment when it is a knee jerk reaction to say “honey, could you help me with this?” they can’t, because they aren’t there… that’s when more times than not we lose it. A simple thing like a smoke detector can remind you your spouse isn’t there. Often times those are the moments that hit harder because there’s no preparing you for it like there is with an anniversary, a birthday, a holiday or a special event. It’s those moments when you feel that strong punch in the gut reminding you they’re  gone.

So the next time the smoke detector goes out, I hope maintenance is on the clock so I can leave the house and say “please go fix this before I lose it”, otherwise I might just have to go get a hotel room. And this is why my dating profile now says “looking for someone to change the battery in the smoke detector”.


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