Alexander ended up in my arms tonight, curled up in a ball, weeping.
The evening started innocently enough. Our family was surrounding the dinner table, laughing at funny jokes, enjoying a meal of salmon (Alexander’s favorite), when a conversation started about the significance of this week –
The one year anniversary of Rebecca’s transplant.
While sharing stories of that time period and taking note of the complete dichotomy of what our lives looked like last year as opposed to now, I noticed tears welling up in Alexander’s eyes. Tears that grew until they had no choice but to spill over the corners of his eyes and into the creases of his face.
Alexander was reliving the ‘lost years’. A term aptly coined by my son to express how he felt spending the majority of his known childhood void of a mother or a sister or at times even a father.
It was a wave of pain that hit – deep into his core. A core that has been dormant for quite some time.
And so this broken, eight year old child of mine, walked to my chair and buried his face in my chest. And I rocked and rocked this growing, almost-too-large-for-mommy’s-lap boy as we cried over the ‘lost years’ together.
And while we grieved, I was reminded of this all-too-familiar position we both found ourselves in almost exactly one year ago.
So instead of a bedtime story, I read to my Alexander the journal I wrote about him right before Rebecca’s transplant:
So my boys just flew home and I am sad.
Between my parents, their godmother Gail, my Aunt Jan, and Brian rotating their care-giving skills – Nicholas and Alexander got to spend 12 days in Minneapolis with us.
12 glorious days.
And by ‘glorious’ I mean days of good mixed with major adjustments, days of happiness paired with abandonment issues, and days of excitement mingled with outbursts galore. Some days were considered more gory than glorious.
On one of these days, I walked the boys to a park near the hospital. Attempting to spend quality time, one thing lead to another (Alexander lost in a race against his big brother Nicholas) and the minuscule straw that was holding the camel’s back finally broke.
More like shattered.
Alexander went into full melt-down mode – one of those good old-fashioned, throw yourself on the ground, screaming life is unfair, tantrums.
The same tantrum I threw last week with God.
So I immediately scooped Alexander up, and the two of us found ourselves sitting on pavement in the middle of the playground with him weeping in my arms – for over an hour…..
Everyone says children are resilient. I hear this over and over.
But I hate that phrase – truly I do.
It is not that I disbelieve the resiliency of youth, it is the fact that statement is used so many times as a cop-out. We say this as adults to make OURSELVES feel better. A way to ignore children’s very real pain behind very real problems. But NO child or even adult for that matter, is comforted by being told they are resilient during suffering.
They want acknowledgement – they want to be held – they want to be loved.
And my Alexander was in great pain while grieving great loss. He grieved the loss of his family unit. Lost time with his father. Lost time with his mother. And especially lost time with his sister. Alexander grieved a care-free childhood, his stability, his security and his peace.
Alexander simply grieved.
As I rocked him through his hurt, his tears and mine fell upon the concrete in unison. We were holding and loving each other through this pain when all of the sudden Nicholas interrupted our special moment shouting:
“Mom, Alexander, you are NOT going to believe this! There is a man walking around in his underwear playing a trumpet!”
And sure enough – Nicholas was right. There was a man parading around in a sports jacket and undergarments playing a trumpet in shrieking, not-so-very musical tones.
It was a surreal sight – a tad disturbing – and absolutely hilarious.
In less than five seconds, Alexander and I went from tears of deep sadness to tears of deep laughter. The three of us rolled together on the ground roaring until our stomachs ached with muscles we hadn’t used in far too long.
We experienced God’s beauty when “our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said…, ‘The Lord has done great things for us’ (Psalm 126:2).”
All of our pain came to a crashing momentary halt when we were able to tap into the gift of pure, unadulterated laughter. We began to remember great things from our Lord and the fun moments He provides while temporarily forgetting our sadness.
This similar scenario has happened far too often to be coincidental. Only God knows when I am at my wit’s end to suddenly bring a jolt of humor into my life. Something to take me away from my ‘I can’t take it anymore’ moment and bring me joy.
Even if that joy is a man donning nothing other than underpants marching through the park with a trumpet. And yes, that very half-dressed man became my and my boy’s unexpected miracle of the day.
Thank you Lord for the glorious gift of laughter to relieve us from our stress-filled lives.
After reading Alexander this unorthodox bedtime story, do you know what he did?
He started laughing.
So although there are numerous waves filled with deep anguish that may ambush us when we least expect it, there are plenty of waves carrying with them the memory of something joyous – something to remind us of the great things the Lord has done.
I pray a wave of laughter hits Alexander tonight as he dreams of a naked trumpeteer.