We wake up in the still, quiet house with our hearts thundering in our ears and sweat sticking T-Shirts to our chests. Hair matted, fists clenched. Eyelids sticking shut trying to make sense of where we are. Where our dreams have dragged us.
Every parent has nightmares.
The only way to climb out of those dark thoughts is to put feet down on the carpet and pad down the hallway to where our tiny humans are sleeping. To kneel by the crib and place palms on backs that are curled around small toes, tiny bottoms thrust into the air. We treat our panic with the steady rhythm of their breathing.
And our own slows. As we breathe in and out the wonder of their being unharmed, alive, real, ours.
To have a child is to dive into a deep, dark sea of vulnerability. There are no guarantees. Only promises that your heart will break. And that you will be put back together in unexpected ways.
But some nightmares take place in broad daylight.
When my friend Corné lost her daughter, Isabelle, my brother and dad were there. It was one of those stories you hear about all the time. Desperately accidental. A driver who backed up and didn’t pay close enough attention. Isabelle, like my Jackson, was just 18 months old. We’d been back back in the States only five months. Only five months since we’d been in South Africa for her first birthday. And I was in Michigan surrounded by snow when we got the news.
I wanted to vomit. I wanted to climb out of my skin.
My brother tells how he couldn’t un-hear the howl of animal grief from her parents.
Some nightmares block out the sun.
It’s best not to pretend everything will be OK. It’s best to just howl alongside, I think. The desperate news out of Connecticut has raised a howl in all of us so hard and loud and ragged it is difficult to breathe.
We are not the first to ask that question.
We will surely not be the last.
Keep asking friends.
Take all your frustration and anger and terror to the God who has never shied away from hard questions. The only God I know who has experienced death and heaved with the howl of loss Himself.
We will have nightmares, thrash around in the dark and grope towards a night light. But we are the destined-for-morning people.
We are the sunshine creeping over the edge of a dark rock rolled away people. We are the gaping hole in the side of a hill defied by the Light people.
We are the Sunday morning, eyes still swollen from weeping people.
So we howl. But not without hope, my friends.
Not without hope.