A Nightlight By Any Other Name

Red light

Last week, our family said goodbye to Roxanne. We’re still mourning.

Roxanne was the kids’ nightlight. She was a small, plastic lamp purchase at IKEA for five dollars. She served us well for nearly eight years. As you may have guessed from The Police song reference, Roxanne was a red light.

We miss her more than I thought it was possible to miss an inanimate object.

Roxanne was a small win in the bleary days of early parenthood. She gave off just the right amount of light to fend off monsters (for the kids) and avoid Legos on the floor (for the grownups). But mostly, Roxanne was proof that while the transition to parenthood had taken many things from us (e.g. freedom and free time), Husband and I still had our sense of humor.

Each time the kids asked, “Can you turn on Roxanne?” Husband and I would smile at our wit.

Roxanne did not go quietly. A routine bulb replacement ended with a spectacular explosion.

We drove to IKEA last Saturday hoping to buy a replacement. That’s right, we went to IKEA on a Saturday for a five dollar lamp. Our grief made us irrational.

[I’ve tried to write an appropriate description of IKEA on a Saturday for several minutes, experimenting with a mixture of the terms “Costco,” “Black Friday,” and “free trips to Disneyland” but still can’t quite paint an accurate picture of the mayhem. Imagine the most crowded place you’ve ever been. Now double it, give everyone a grocery cart and take away their self-awareness. Now, make them walk the most circuitous route possible from the door to the checkout stand. Got that? Double it again and you’re almost there.]

In the end, it all came to nothing. IKEA had pink, blue and white versions of our beloved lamp for sale, but not red.

We selected a blue version—feeling pretty sure that Shakespeare was wrong and a lamp by any other name would not be as sweet—and made our way to the checkout line with our inferior purchase.

We’re trying to adjust to life without Roxanne, but it’s hard. The new light is too bright. Its cord is too stiff to tuck discreetly along the baseboard. The new lamp is just a lamp, an unnamed lamp.

We miss Roxanne.


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