It was August 6th and all the kids were finally in bed. Relief was settling into my tired body. I watched a little TLC and then started talking on the phone for a little bit, when I heard a strange noise from Spencer’s room. I thought at first that he was playing with his Star Wars toys and just making flying noises, but it didn’t quite match up to his usual array of Star Wars sound effects. Then it sounded like he was crying, but I had never heard this cry before. So, I got off the phone and went in his room and said, “What’s going on, buddy?” It wasn’t until he tried to talk that I realized that he was sobbing. He said, “I just miss Daddy so much.”
I have always said that there is just a different cry that accompanies real, I lost my spouse, my father, my son forever, sort of grief. This particular cry was that kind of wailing cry.
I immediately lost it and shimmied up the awkward ladder into his loft bed to cry with him and rub his back. As he was trying to gain his breath, he walked me through how he got to missing Dave so much. Across his messy room, he saw a piece of artwork that he did at school last year. He said that it reminded him of school and then that reminded him of when Dave surprised Spencer by showing up at one of his field trips to the fire station.
I remember that day so well. Dave drove Spencer to school that morning and Mrs. Farrell told him that they were going to the fire station later if he wanted to join. So, Dave did. I remember Dave telling me that he felt so good when Spencer’s face was in total excited shock that he was there. This was just more evidence of a new Dave that had grown to feel the little joys of life so much deeper, like his son’s excitement for him. Dave texted me pictures that day, of the field trip and of Spencer holding the heavy fire hose. Such a small event in the scheme of life, that has somehow become a landmark day. Maybe because I’m pretty sure this is a day that is going to stick with Spencer as a memory of his own. Maybe it’s because I felt so proud of Dave for being so deeply touched by Spencer’s excitement.
Back to the night of August 6th. You can only imagine how my heart breaks for this pain that I want him to express, but that I also want desperately to take away from him. I asked Spence if he just wanted to talk about Daddy for a little bit, so we did. Then I sang him the ol’ Eagle Lake Camp Song, from the summer camp that Dave and I both attended when we were in junior high, and then I started praying. I was praying about our hearts and our pain and I said, “and God, we just don’t think this is fair!” and Spencer piped in with, “I think it’s fair?” I was like, “Como? What’s that you say, son?” He repeated, “I think it’s fair?” I said, “Tell me about that? How do you figure?” He said and I’m not kidding or changing his words, “I think it’s fair, because we are going to be able to see him again in heaven.” I’m telling you people, God speaks to the hearts of these little ones in ways that we just can’t understand. I started to talk about how he was right, and that because of Jesus we get to see daddy again. Then I just shut up, because Spencer already knows that, and God is speaking to his heart. I hardly think that my afterthought words are what he needs. I just sat up and looked at him and he had transformed from a weeping mess to a content son who had hope of seeing his daddy again someday. It’s not like I was trying to convince him that night that everything was OK. I was the one telling God and Spencer that this isn’t fair. Although Spencer was torn up initially, he was the one that ended the scene by basically saying “I have hope, Mommy.” I mean, what would Spencer do with this pain and sadness if he didn’t have hope of seeing Dave again or if God wasn’t there to calm his heart on nights like this. How far would he tuck this pain away? And yet Spencer and I brought our sadness and our pleas before God and He brought about a tiny miracle in just minutes. I wish you all could have seen Spencer that night go to sleep. He was so calm and so sweet and so content. Only God can do that. I’ve mentioned this before, but these nights with Spencer, I am always trying to teach him a little something about Jesus, but it often times ends up being Spencer showing me the extravagant power and peace of God that truly transcends understanding. He is like my little personal C.S. Lewis. I need these vivid lessons of God’s power for weeks like the one I’ve had.
This last week has been a tough one for me. I don’t know if you have ever seen people crawling across the finish line of Ironman triathlons? If you have, that is what I feel like. I think we have done pretty well this summer, but for the love of all that is pure and holy, when it is going to be over!?! Spencer’s first full day isn’t until August 29th and the girls don’t go to preschool until after Labor Day. You know, it is still shocking that Dave didn’t even live long enough to see the girls go to Kindergarten. Not even close. What in the world?
Anyway, I have been sitting in between this upcoming transition. I am, on one hand, ready for some routine and ready for some time, as brief as it will be, that I can count on to have a second to myself, to go to the grocery store without three kids hanging on the cart, to go to a doctor’s appointment, to get my teeth cleaned, to watch I Didn't Even Know I Was Pregnant, to write a blog, to talk on the phone without interruption, etc . . . On the other hand, I find myself a little terrified. I have gone through about three big transitions since Dave died. I went from those first few months where everything was just crazy and everyone was helping me do everything. Then the next few months, I was attempting to get back into life, but there was still a lot of help and few expectations of my performance. Then summer came and that was all about getting through it and trying to build fun and precious memories with our newly defined family. NOW, it seems like this is real life starting and I’m feeling very overwhelmed. It’s not that people aren’t willing to help, because I know they are beyond willing, and I am super thankful for that, but this is just the next step in life, I’m afraid. I am heading into life as a single mom. I am starting back to a full piano teaching schedule. I am heading back to getting everybody ready in the morning before the strike of 7:45am. I’m heading back to having to cook dinner every night, which is something that I wasn’t good at doing in the first place. I’m going back to attending school events by myself. I’m going back to making decisions by myself. I’m going back to doing real life, without Dave. So, while I am ready for summer to be over, I don’t think I like the alternative any more.
However, I was running (with a little walking mixed in . . . the high altitude, ya know) this morning around the YMCA Camp of the Rockies this morning, thinking on all of this and about this place in which I’ve been stuck for the past week and then I began to wonder why I feel this way. I know that God has brought me this far. I mean, I already know that God will give me what I need, because his track record has been awfully strong over the last eight most difficult months of my life. So, I sat down to write my little blog here, but before I did, I opened up this little devotional called, “Jesus Today,” and here is what it said to confirm my thoughts just moments ago:
When you are going through very tough times and there is no relief in sight, you usually start looking for a way out. These escapist longings stem from self-pity and a sense of entitlement: You think you deserve better conditions than your current situation. But when you think this way you are ignoring My sovereignty over your life. Though your circumstances may indeed be painful and difficult, they are not worthless. So muster the courage to say yes to your life, trusting that I am in control and I am with you in your struggles. Come to me with a courageous heart, hoping in Me, and I will bless you in many ways. Moreover, I will multiply your small act of bravery: I will strengthen your heart.
Isaiah 40:10-11 - See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Shortly after Dave died, I heard a lot of people saying, "I guess you just have to take it one day at a time." The same applies to me eight months later. If I start thinking, "OK - the REST of my life without Dave starts NOW, " I start getting heart palpitations and a sense of dread and some mild depression worms its way into my delicate state of being. But if I can believe that God will walk with me through this day, then it feels very doable and I can say yes to my life. If you think of it, you can pray that I can stay in the present, not get overwhelmed thinking about the rest of my life, and face each day hoping in God with a courageous heart.