I sit watching the sunset as beautiful pinks and oranges of the day struggle against the encroaching shadows of night. Within minutes they are nothing more than a memory. My eyes strain for one last glimmer of red to the west and then it too is gone, spirited away to wherever today has gone.
All those who have prayed with me through the day have gone home. Not that I really wanted them here in this private hour. This is my time. A time to reflect and … question. After ten hours of surgery this is what I am left with? I have allowed men I do not know to cut into my wife’s brain based on their promise that perhaps they can give her back to me. And for what? To be told there is no hope.
The neurosurgeon’s words invade my mind like the night shadows. “Perhaps a year, perhaps less.” Phrases like chemo and radiation pulse in my head, suffocating me in their embrace.
Thoughts of two boys nowhere near manhood, a woman I haven’t had nearly enough time to get to know and love, and promises that seem empty and lifeless haunt me through the night. What little sleep that finds me is quickly chased away by the ringing phone. Friends who have just gotten the news are calling, meaning well but having no idea the pain inflicted by having to recount my nightmare for the hundredth time.
“Can this night get any darker?” I cry out to God without really praying. There is no conscious effort to communicate with Him. My cries simply ooze out through the cracks of my broken heart and pool up around me. And the darkness grows deeper.
I guess the sun rose this morning but not for me. All I hear are the hesitant questions of the one I love. I have been told it is my job to take this darkness and lay it on her as well. Why couldn’t someone else tell her? Why me? But of course, I know the reason. This is our darkness to share. Others try to join us but cannot. It belongs only to us and the God who, though we cannot feel Him at the moment, we know is there.
And then … I open the shades and look out across gleaming white snow reflecting the brilliance of a rare sunny day. I rub my eyes, hardly believing the night has now passed. Sorting in my mind between reality and the lingering remnants of last night’s dreams. As I walk outside, my lungs embrace the crisp cold air and my heart is alive. The one I love walks beside me as we join our son on the way for the birth of his second child. He too has walked in dreadful dark places, first in his personal life and then in the burning sands of Iraq.
I sit in the waiting room and listen to the one I love tell her story to yet another person who needs hope in their darkness. Twenty years have passed since we sat alone in the darkness asking why? Twenty years of bad and good, sorrow and joy, despair and hope, failure and success.
My wife recounts once again our dark times as she speaks to one who has yet to see any promise of another morning. A faint glimmer of hope crosses their face and I smile to myself. Their heart too is cracked and what is inside is beginning to seep out. And I know … God is here. I thank him for the darkness He led us through. Had He not, how else could the one I love speak with such confidence of the daytime? How else could I smile? There are things that can only be learned at midnight. Secrets to be treasured until a fellow night-traveler needs them.
Sunset is coming again; pinks and oranges giving way to the shadows. But all is well. The darkness only prepares us for a new today.
For he gives us comfort in our trials so that we in turn may be able to give the same sort of strong sympathy to others in their. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Phillips Paraphrase)
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