I woke the following morning to the sound of muffled crying. As a mom, you rarely sleep deeply, always on the alert for some strange sound, some warning sign. Your guard is rarely allowed to go down. And, after yesterday, mine may never again. I stood, walked quickly through the kitchen, and made a left into Amy and Jennifer’s room. Amy was still asleep. Oh to be four years old and still able to sleep anywhere, anytime, and through anything.
On the other side of the room, Jennifer was curled on her side facing the wall. Her shoulders were gently shaking from the sobs she was now trying to silence.
When I sat by her side, she rolled towards me, sat up then doubled over with her head in my lap. I stroked her long blonde hair quietly, carefully working out any knots as my long fingers found them.
If it were any other early morning, this would seem normal. Perhaps she had woken from a bad dream and had just called out for comfort. But, no, today it wasn’t that easy. Today I would have no words to silence the cries and no solutions to make it all right. She would go to sleep tonight with the same worry and trauma with which she awoke. So what was I to do here, on the side of her bed, as she cried in my lap?
Tell her everything was fine?
Tell her Dawn would come home soon?
Tell her that she would be much better today than she was yesterday?
I am not a liar, especially to my children. I had heard enough lies growing up that I knew even a lie, with the best of intentions but no basis in reality, was just as painful as a slap across the face and only robs the hearer of dignity and wraps them in chains of shattered expectations.
So, I only stroked her Rapunzel hair from her flushed face. How long had she been crying? Her face was splotched and her eyes were swollen. This girl was my brave one but she was deeply sentimental. I knew, even then, that her heart was much bigger than her young chest would be able to contain. Her future would be lived clinging to what was left and praying desperately for God to keep the pieces together.
In time, her breathing slowed and the tears stopped. She was asleep again on my lap. It wouldn’t be long before Amy woke up in the next bed ready for the day. Jennifer wouldn’t go to school today and Amy, only in Kindergarten, would stay home too. I checked my watch and soon family and friends would start to arrive at the house to take over my duties here so I could go sit with Dawn at the hospital, but I didn’t want to budge. In this room, now with both younger girls sleeping, I could imagine all was as it should be and Jennifer had, in fact, only had a bad dream and I had only come to comfort her.
Bad dreams were frequent when I was a girl. They started when I was about 8 years old and usually consisted of darkness and screaming. In my nightmares there wasn’t a visible force of any kind to be reckoned with, just the feeling of something approaching and the crescendo of desperate voices. But, over time, I became an expert at wrapping up those nightmares in pretty paper and tucking them away under lock and key. By the time I reached my teens I had a whole stash of these packages hidden away in the recesses of my imagination. It would take someone brave to help me burn them one day. Until then, they accumulated and I put one foot in front of the other.
When tragedy threatens to steal her first born Lynn finds herself reliving every disappointment, every heartache, every loss, and every layer of guilt from her past. Pain upon pain twists its way around her heart leaving little room for anything but the bitter taste of anger and hate. But God isn’t done. He has hope, miracles and redemption in store. If only she dare see it.