I don’t do well at night. I never have. Any perspective or rationality I have seem to set with the sun. Fear rises up from deep within me and reigns until the sun’s rays banish it at dawn.
I have been this way for as long as I can remember. My parents warned Findley early on never to discuss anything emotional with me at night because I couldn’t handle it. I am pretty sure he would say this is the best advice anyone ever gave him.
My nighttime fears cause me to long for the familiarity of home because at least home offers some illusion of security. I was in sixth grade before I ever spent the night out. Up until that point, the same scenario would play out most Friday nights. I would decide I wanted to spend the night at my friend Ashley’s house and I would happily pack my bag and head over. But I never made it past nine o’clock. I was so predictable that one night when I went downstairs to ask Ashley’s mom to call my parents to come get me, Dad was already there. He was sitting at the kitchen table with Ashley’s father, having a beer and waiting for me to appear. He knew me better than I knew myself.
I am sure this fear stemmed from losing my mother at an early age. I never would have been able to articulate that at the time, and it is still strange to me to admit that a tragedy I don’t remember clearly has impacted me to such a degree. But it has. I have always been aware that life is short. That tremendous pain is hiding just around the corner. That my perfect little world could be shattered in an instant.
Virginia was born very early on a Friday morning. I went home the following Tuesday, but she obviously wasn’t ready to come with me. I cried myself to sleep that night because I knew my haven was gone. I no longer had a place where I could pretend to be safe from the pain of this world because my fears had been realized. The impermanence of my happy existence had been exposed and I knew it.
I do a decent job of holding it together during the daylight in spite of my fears, but when night comes, I am fighting a real battle. Unfortunately, night is also the hardest time for Virginia. Like mother, like daughter. When she is screaming, it feels like the pain will last forever and that the two of us will be swallowed up by sorrow. I forget so easily that daybreak will bring relief, that she and I will both regain our strength to continue this fight when the darkness is banished. The sun will rise in the morning. It always does.
We are in the middle of a rough patch with Virginia and we are facing some big decisions. It feels like we have been in this place for a long time, but I am clinging to the lessons I have learned in the night. That dawn will always break. That hard times don’t last forever. That we have not been abandoned in the darkness before and this time won’t be any different.
One of the most unexpected consequences of the events of Virginia’s birth is that I don’t live in fear anymore. (Well, not nearly as much as I used to anyway.) You would think that now I would be more afraid because I know what’s out there, but instead I have realized that in spite of true devastation, I am ok. I still have joy and it is even greater than I ever imagined. I have just had to look for somewhere more permanent to store my treasures.
“And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.” John 1:5