Now I lay me down to sleep
I Pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake
I Pray the Lord my soul to take.
This is my earliest memory of prayer. Every night from the time I was old enough to speak I would pray this prayer. After the words above would begin the God Bless’ Grandma, Mommy, Auntie, and every cousin, neighbor, friend or acquaintance that I could think of because the longer the list the more time I was allowed to stay up and the longer my Mother would sit with me. This ritual took place after all of the bedtime stories were told, and lullabies had been sung, and after my teeth were brushed and my hair was washed. It was a ritual that could take fifteen minutes or an hour if I was lucky.
The prayer however was not lighthearted or superficial. My Grandmother was seventy when I was born so the idea that someone could die in their sleep was very real even to me then. My Father had died so why would I think other people couldn’t die? My Father was murdered when I was two years old. I did not know the circumstances of his death when I was little of course but I did know that I didn’t have a Dad like other kid’s did and that my Dad was in “heaven with God.”
In my family when we get together we always say “I love you” and give everyone a hug and kiss goodbye when we leave. It is just the way it is. When the kids are young they learn that they have to hug and kiss each and everyone in the room before we can all get in the car. My two sons were raised this way and in their own way they both embrace the custom.
This custom became even more important this past weekend when I saw my oldest son. He was packing his car for a move from Upstate New York to a small town in Western Ohio to begin life with his girlfriend and her young daughter. I worried a bit when I knew he was heading out late but since I travel at night myself I understood the desire to not fight traffic on a long trip.
I hugged him goodbye knowing that it might be a few months before I would see him again and I told him I loved him about a dozen times. I asked him if he needed gas money and was proud of him for refusing the cash. My phone rang around six o’clock the following morning with the news from his father and Step-Mother that he was safe but that there had been an accident and a fire he had only been able to rescue his cat from the car.
When I asked him what happened later he said “I just blinked.”
The enormity of what could have happened sank in slowly throughout the day. What if he had been knocked unconscious and couldn’t get out of the car? What if he had gone off a cliff instead of simply hitting a road sign? The what ifs were endless, but I couldn’t go down that road with worry any more than I could have gone down that road with regrets when my husband passed away. What if he had agreed to go to the hospital sooner that day? What if the surgeon had gone about the procedure differently? What if he had complained of discomfort and sought medical help before he was in pain?
In the blink of an eye my son was safe, in the blink of an eye my husband was gone. I thank God for my son’s life and I thank God for my Husband’s life as well. We married later in life and yes it is tragic that we only had each other for just a very short time, but we did have that time, we did experience life at its fullest height of happiness. I thank God that my son will have that opportunity with the girl he loves, I pray that they never take a single moment for granted.
Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Isaiah 43: 18 “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
So scripture time and time again tells me to look forward, to not worry. It tells me to let God work in me and through me. So I did what I could do, I cried for my husband in my loneliness and I wiped away my tears knowing that there would be no one to hold my hand while I worried about my son. I called my son on the phone and told him how much I loved him, I told him to hold on tight to his girlfriend and I told him to be grateful that he was able to do that. I packed a box and sent him some things and some money and I gave it over to God to watch over him, because in the end, I can only do what I can do, and with God’s help, that is always enough.by