My feet lay wrapped in fleece parallel to her own that end just above mine and the tip of my nose barely reaches the crest of her warm hair heated by the fever that ignites a fire within her. It's the darkest hour before morning and the light of day has been kept in bed by the darkness of winter and its cold blanket that smothers. I can feel the current of sickness coursing through her - the rigid bracing of predicted pain and the jerking of nerves and body when the worst has visited. I hold her close and stroke her head as I whisper comfort that I hope will pierce the fear that resides behind her tear-filled eyes.
I know this road, this one pocked by stolen nights of sleeplessness and veering you towards a day you did not desire. I can have all the experience and empathy of this shared road but I can not borrow her pains and spare her. Though our paths meander so close together these early years, one day hers with shoot out on a path of her own choosing and I must teach her now to be strong, to soldier on, never losing hope of the dawn of what dreams may come.
Sorrow can long endure for the night but do I believe that joy comes in the morning? Enough to not only promise this in hushed assurance but to model it daily in my life? To show her that yes, through the disappointment and the theft of dreams and the pain and the heart-aching detours that strive to imprison us in perpetual darkness, there is light and hope in this life, there is always hope?
I lost my light for a few months in 2013. A cold and dark wind blew past my repeated truths of what I believed to be true and created a veil of impenetrable hopelessness. It first visited me through the pain of chronic health that worsened at the beginning of spring and remained an unapologetic guest overstaying its occupancy in my heart even as I contemplated the arrival of another unplanned resident in my womb. No mask, no hiding, I confided in anyone who would listen that these were dark days, days of despair and disappointment and that I was angry and bitter and broken. The future seemed mired only in more sacrifice, more burden, more weakness. All I could see were perpetual dark nights of the soul clawing against the exhaustion from the sleepless nights of infancy.
I could not soldier on. I could not pierce the darkness no matter the weapons and tools I employed. I kept on telling myself I believed in hope but hope was not mine to own.
I could no longer believe that this too will pass. Things will get better. Days of sunshine are just ahead. I couldn't believe it because I no longer believed these things to be true. And I still don't. Sometimes trials do not pass. Sometimes things get worse. Sometimes these days of early gray are the lightest skies you will see for years.
Instead I began a practice of surrender. My first thought of every day was the same as another's prayer in a dark garden, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me - but it is not my will, but yours, that must be done.”
My daughter's fever finally broke and weeks ago my own darkness was dissolved in what I can only call a miracle of joy and grace. But it is not always so. And so my promise to my children can no longer be that these things are only for a season, only momentary glitches in what will soon continue as your perfect and blessed life.
I can only promise that there exists a God who knows your every need and dream and ache and longing and that nothing, no pain or rejection or failure or mistake or death, can ever separate you from your eternal purpose and glorious destiny He has prepared for you. Not in this life nor in the shadow of the grave.
And each joy and sorrow of your years will serve to beautifully transform you into what He had in mind for you before you ever had dreams of your own.
For that dream, I awaken each morning. Waiting for the further unfolding and fulfillment of what that reality looks like for me - this year as a mother of a newborn and farther on as a eternal child of a faithful God.