I clearly remember the hours I spent as a child, staring at the closet door from the vantage of my bed, too scared to close my eyes, wondering if it would be safe to cross to my bedroom door and make a break for my mother's room. Sure, I was young, imaginative, prone to nightmares. But there was something in that closet.
Twenty years later, I still watch for monsters in the closet. I shouldn't be afraid of the dark anymore, but these monsters find me anyway. They haunt the closets of almost any house I enter. They wait for me, fangs dripping, mangled fur pressed against my coats and shoes. They are the specters of internal fears, of threats levied against my fragile sense of belonging. They bring with them a lifetime of fear and insecurity, of never knowing when the next blow would fall, the next safety net vanish.
And so, among the other gifts you gave to me, the advice, the blessing, the bed large enough to stretch my full length upon, I've one more thing to thank you for.
I lived in your house for six full months, and there were no monsters in your closets.