Clinging to the Pain
Naptime today ended in tears silently streaming down my cheeks as I lay between two children sleeping serenely. They were an outpouring of a heaviness of spirit, a fear quenched by deep gratitude, brought to the surface through a children’s book.
During our naptime routine, a book is read (Judah rarely makes it out of this stage), then Kenzie and I cuddle our way to dreaming. Today our book was Robert Munsch's Love You Forever, which I'd heard about but never actually read. Spoiler - a mother's song to her son expresses her love for him as he grows, ending with the son singing it to her and then his newborn daughter. Kenzie fell asleep at the conclusion, blissfully unaware of the tears making manifest my aching soul.
What mother (or father) does not feel the limiting horror of the hourglass, moments slipping past in a blur of laughter, children growing behind our backs and without our permission? This was the heaviness igniting my sorrow, regarding my tiny children sleeping deeply, that as they grow, leave, and have families of their own I will miss them.
In that sorrow resides deep gratitude.
Interposed over illustrator Sheila McGraw’s sweet depictions was the mental image of a photo strewn across social media –a young Syrian refugee - Aylan, drowned on the beach. It is seared into my soul, this image of a boy my son’s age similar in size and shape to the boy I hold each day. And I was thankful for this sweet ache not all parent’s will have, letting go as their children grow. So thankful. So grateful to be moved by the thought of losing my children to their blossoming life, rather than watching that life ebb away in the tide of death.
In that moment, my tears of sorrow both acknowledged the grief that change brings while also lamenting life cut short. Although at times petrified of accidents or illnesses that might bereave me of my children, these are tragedies all the more terrifying by their improbability. Most likely my pain will mirror that of Munsch’s mother, the sharp rending of a family multiplying. I am grateful for a pain that others mourn the loss of. In that, I am relieved, ashamed, angry, and fearful.
The cross holds pain and joy, love and loss. The cross is relevant to me here, an American mother. The cross is relevant in the Mediterranean, to Syrian parents. For the cross is death and life; God mourns His Son, God mourns our sin. And then He defeats it.
I can in no way understand the pain, anguish, suffering, fear, and despair those in other parts of the world are experiencing. Even should an accident claim one of my beloved children, my pain will never match that of a refugee fleeing the fear that overtakes them. But God can, and does understand. He willingly endured that pain. I am in awe, and today, this week, the weight of that is a heavy burden.