For the last few nights, I have been up listening to my sick baby sniffle and cough. He’s been having a hard time, and there is very little I can do about it. A mix of allergies and a baby cold, there is no quick treatment option except to ride it out, even if that means a few sleepless nights for us all.
Well, in the early hours of Sunday morning, I, in my lack-of-sleep-stupor, started to have a very vivid – and terrifying – dream.
I dreamt that my oldest son was dead. I don’t remember how he died. It was sudden – maybe a car crash. One that I survived and he didn’t. Something like that. But my dream, or rather my nightmare, was that he was gone. Suddenly and tragically. I began to weep. Then I began to sob. I was half-asleep one minute, completely awake the next, passed out a moment later – writhing in this (thankfully unreal) pain that was twisting my insides.
My eyes swollen shut, my nightmare continued. I dreamt I was at church delivering his eulogy. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I remember saying “If anyone else can come up here and read this, I’d be grateful. I can’t.” So someone came up; actually a handful of people came up – one after the other – and they also struggled. They couldn’t read. They couldn’t speak. They, too, couldn’t breathe. Nobody could get through it. It was all too raw and too hard.
The pain I felt – and the pain we all felt in my dream – it was real. I was broken.
I woke up grateful for the new day… but scared. Was James still in his room? Sleeping? Alive? Of course he was. How could I possibly imagine otherwise?! But that’s how real my nightmare was. I was legitimately concerned about his life for a minute.
When he woke, I covered him in (somewhat begrudging on his part) hugs and kisses and smiles and yes you can have juice AND milk that’s fines.
But you can imagine my horror when I turned on the TV to learn that there had been yet another senseless massacre. It didn’t matter where or when or who – all of those people who were killed or injured… they are someone’s babies. Someone like me has cried over them, prayed over them, been frustrated by them, laughed with them, taught them, or hurt them/been hurt by them. I was crushed. The fresh wounds of losing my son (in my nightmare) were reopened, and I wept again.
Broken again. I was broken for those families.
Only later Sunday evening, during my hour of Adoration at my church did I realize something. My horrific nightmare happened at the exact times of this attack. I grieved as people were losing their actual lives. I cried while people hid scared in the bathroom. I moaned and tossed and turned and choked on fearful tears as police were breaking down walls to save hostages.
I feel like Jesus clued me in during my time with Him. He reminded me that, as a “feeler,” I can use my tears. I feel people’s pain – in a very real way… And that is just what He did – and what He does. I imagine Him just aching for all the pain and suffering we feel – around the world – on a daily basis. I imagine Him also weeping for those lives lost, but welcoming them home to His side with joy and love.
In no way is my hormone-fueled nightmare anywhere close to the actual suffering pressed upon the victims, their friends and families, and the whole community. But I felt it. I did.
And He showed me that we can be broken together.
He weeps for us, but He also heals our hearts. I pray He heals yours and mine and all those aching today and any day.
Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.