It happens most often as I am drifting off to sleep.
There is this one spot on the bedroom bookshelf where my eyes landed that first night-one paperback spine that instantly transports me to the moment I had to close my eyes on the day I found out my son would never come home again.
And it is fresh.
Absolutely, positively fresh.
Like “just happened” fresh.
You’d think that nearly five years of intervening experience, nearly five years of grief work, nearly five years of trying so darn hard to learn to tuck that feeling away deep down so it can’t escape would have worked whatever magic time is supposed to work.
But it hasn’t.
Oh, most days I can lock that lid down tight. I can distract my mind, busy my hands and keep my heart from wandering too close to despair.
Shadows and silence and stillness give room for the memory to rise to the surface.
And it does.
My son is never coming home again.
Absolutely, positively fresh.
“Just happened” fresh.
I’m pretty good at pushing away uncomfortable or sad or downright horrifying thoughts in the daytime.
Sunlight means there’s plenty to do and plenty to keep my mind from dwelling too long on anything that will make be cry or bring me to my knees.
But there is a dangerous space just between wake and sleep, when the house is quiet and my mind is free to explore random corners that guarantees unpleasant thoughts will pour in and overwhelm me.
I can’t tell you how many times the last moment before sleep claims my consciousness is filled with thoughts of Dominic.
Not sweet memories of his smiling face.
Instead they are graphic images of what he looked like, crumpled on the ground, perhaps gasping one last time trying to fill his lungs before his soul flew to Jesus, leaving his body behind.
It’s impossible to describe the electric current that shoots through my midsection like a lightning bolt. I cannot help a heart that doesn’t carry this awful burden understand how such flashes disrupt any hope of peaceful sleep.
I used to be afraid of ghosts in the dark.
I never slept without aid of a nightlight until well into my adult years.
I’m not afraid of specters anymore.
They are small potatoes next to a mother’s own heart screaming, “Where WERE you????” when your baby breathed his last.
Nights are just plain hard.
Only sorrow and a broken heart in bed together.
The months when I can sleep with windows open are my favorite.
I love fresh air and I love falling asleep to the sound of the breeze tinkling my wind chimes or the rain drip, drip, dripping on the leaves.
Last night I had been asleep for a few hours and woke to a sound I rarely hear after dark-a bird (probably one nesting in the tree outside my bedroom window) was singing her heart out. I listened for awhile, thinking that surely something had startled her awake and as soon as her eyes took in the night she’d hush her melody and go back to sleep.
But she just kept singing.
Chortling through chord after chord, note after note, trill after trill.
I fell back to sleep before she did.
And as I was drifting off, I was reminded of this verse:
I’m thankful for open windows, singing birds and daily reminders that I am not alone on this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Jesus is here.
He loves me.
He gives my heart songs in the night.
Any one can sing in the day. When the cup is full, one draws inspiration from it; when wealth rolls in abundance around them, any one can sing to the praise of a God who gives an abundant harvest. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but the skillful singer is the one who can sing when there is not a ray of light to read by—who sings from their heart, and not from a book that they can see, because they have no means of reading, except from that inward book of their living spirit, where notes of gratitude pour out in songs of praise. No one can create a song in the night by themselves; they may attempt it, but they will learn how difficult it is.
I was afraid of the dark until I was almost forty years old.
My fear was rooted in scary childhood moments and even years of adult experience could not rip it from the soil of my psyche. I never could convince my heart what my head knew to be true: there was nothing in the dark that wasn’t also there in the light.
It was fear, not darkness, that controlled me.
There is great darkness in grief. So many unanswerable questions, so much anquish, so much pain.
Read the rest here: God of the Day and God of the Night