Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shadows

Putting Lanie to bed, tearful girl. Nightmares lately, ones she didn't want to talk about. Crying in my arms, terrible sobs. And then finally, "I dreamed I was standing with you at church, and then I closed my eyes and when I opened them, you were gone."

I held her close. I wanted to tell her it wasn't real, that I would never leave her someplace by herself, that dreams are only dreams. Instead I said, "It feels really sad when you feel left behind." Because something was really troubling her and maybe she just needed to feel it and let it go. (Although I can't say that logic has ever worked for me.)

"It's like you lose them. Even when someone dies, you lose them for a little while," this from a seven year old. So serious. With a touch of melancholy. She gets that from me.

She cried some more. And I realized this was her apprehension to going to bed in a bed by herself, without me. For her shadow-like help all day as I prepared the house for tomorrow's festivities. For her questions about babies and husbands and future, "Will you be happy for me if I have babies or don't? What if you are dead when I have my babies? Will you be happy in heaven for me?"

I held her close and comforted and kissed her. This sadness in her that just wanted a release, and I know that grief. But in my own weakness, I couldn't linger in mourning. And I found myself swimming to the shallow end.

"Dreams are dreams and not real--and I would never forget you someplace. I would always make sure you are safe," I said with a lilt of encouragement. I played a game with her about where I'd meet her in her dreams tonight. At the new ice cream place we discovered the other week. And what flavor ice cream I'd get. And she told me she'd get strawberry cheesecake flavor, "Because they really do have that flavor. And I'd give you the biggest taste for real. And if you liked mine better than yours, I'd let you have mine." But under that, don't leave me.

Bedtime prayers. More hugs and kisses. And I turned off the lights.

"There are so many shadows," she said. "More shadows than there ever were before."

"Do you want to sleep with the light on?" I asked. But she didn't.

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