It’s that moment in the morning when you first wake up. I mean that very first second when you open your eyes and everything goes wild and bazaar. Most of the time it’s with a flash of light, with sounds connected to it. It’s that first second when you have no idea where you are, what you are doing or when you got here. It’s that first second you open your eyes and the first light hits you, blurring everything.

That describes is my first second. Many of you would say they have had similar moments when you wake up. I am sure not everyone has experienced this feeling, and I bet the ones who have don’t experience that feeling every morning. I would be willing to bet most people rather enjoy waking up in the morning refreshed and relaxed. I picture their moments as those seen in a coffee commercial, complete with smiles and that great aroma of coffee and soothing music in the background. That sure would be great if that was my reality, but it’s not.

Here is my reality: My first second of the day starts with a loud and jolting shock of electricity, which I answer with the opening of my eyes.

Just like in a terrible horror movie, my eyes open wide to the limit. I feel as if in one second I went from complete darkness to ball-field lighting that includes the sound of the breaker box as the lights are turned on. An instant heat wave comes over me, and I freeze in confusion. My eyes start to move, but my body stays frozen while the temperature starts to make me overheat. My body starts to free up, but it’s all in slow motion. My first instinct is to tuck and roll, get down, roll away, anything but stay where I am.  Anywhere is better than being here, exposed. I try to jump up and out, but everything is on its own timeline, and I can’t break free. The vision is blurred; the noises are dragging; I feel as if I’m swimming vigorously to the surface with no air left in my lungs. Just before I pass out and all goes dark, I surface and gasp for air, swinging my head around in total fright. Then, BANG! Just as fast and crazy as I woke up five seconds ago, I get the first taste of reality.

This is how my first five seconds of every day starts, sometimes worse and sometimes less explosive. I have accepted the fact that this is my alarm every morning, and sometimes during the day if I let myself fall asleep. During the past 20 years, you would think someone would get used to it, but that’s not the case with me. Every day is the first day it happened. I go to sleep knowing it’s going to happen, but it always happens again the very first time. I fight sleep, thinking that if I don’t sleep, I don’t have to wake up to my own alarm. Yet eventually, I sleep and my alarm always goes off. Just as I can’t tell you the exact second I fell asleep, I no more can tell you when my alarm wakes me up. This is my first five seconds of the day, and I can only hope the rest of the day will be better. This is how this veteran starts his day, every day.

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