When I was a child I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep on my own. I felt particularly fearful at night. It was the time when the distractions were gone and my mind had room to roam to all sorts of horrific scenarios like monsters under the bed or alien invasions or a world wide shortage of ice cream.
The only way I could get to sleep was for my mother to lie down next to me each and every night. Only then would I feel safe believing all the terrible things I imagined would not, could not happen. Her presence beside me assured my little heart everything was going to be just fine and I could finally rest.
In the mid seventies she had a quintessential robe for the time, complete with flared arms. In order to ensure she not try to sneak away until I was fast asleep I would wrap my tiny hand in the flare leaving her no escape except a limp, sleeping hand. I did whatever I could within my little six year old power to make sure she was closest when I felt the most unsafe.
Nine years ago my first husband committed suicide. I found myself, once again, terrified of the night. Fear when not combated thrives in those moments of quiet. My mind roamed to all sorts of horrible scenerios like not being able to pay the mortgage, the impact this would have on my children, and the thought that perhaps I would never feel anything other than excruciating pain. It was always in those quiet moments of closed eyes when images of finding him replayed in repeat mode.
Then I remembered my mother’s robe. Every night for months I fell asleep praying. I needed to know my Father was near and I did everything I could to ensure He not leave until I knew I was safe. I didn’t suppose God minded for He is a good Father. He knows my heart and would do anything to let me know I am not alone.
Then again last night it came… that moment when the hectic day was done and my thoughts had time to go to unsafe places. The world is terrifying right now. Coronavirus has disrupted our lives on a scale unseen during my life time. My children are all being home schooled including my son with autism. Our movement is extremely limited and even when we venture to the grocery store it is filled with diligence and anxiety that exhausts me.
The monster under the bed is invisible. It lingers in the air and attaches to door knobs and shopping carts. The information we are being provided changes daily as does the death count. It doesn’t discriminate and is vicious.
The thought creeps in of my son with special needs catching COVID-19 and having to go the hospital alone. At 18 years old he is cognitively two. Isolated in a hospital room he would not understand what they are doing to him or why I am not there. The probability of him succumbing to Coronovairus is high given his underlying health conditions. These thoughts batter my core. I double me over until I am in the fetal position of my soul.
How I long for my kid fears, those thoughts that kept me up at night but had no way of actually occurring. For the thoughts that keep me up now can happen and will happen if I am not vigilant. They may happen even in spite of taking every precaution like going only to the grocery store as needed, keeping adequate social distance, and washing my hands frequently. If I have learned anything in this life it is there is only so much I can do to determine the outcome of situations beyond my own free will.
Then I remembered my mother’s robe. I tangle my little hand around the hem of my Father’s garment and prayed as I fell asleep. His presence makes the fear manageable. There is power in that hem. There displays unshakable faith in the determination to get to His robe. The fear no longer takes my breath away. My soul unclenches.
I remember those moments in my past of complete loss and devastation. What I now bring to prominence is the absolute certainty that beside and within me was and is the presence of my Father. He doesn’t always stop heart ache from passing through His hands. This world is not His Kingdom….yet. Even so, He is there in the midst to lull me to peace each and every night. May I never outgrow that.
And for the moment in the dark and dreadful night, that is more than enough for me.