on the shadow and a confession: a love story
The following is a segment from our love story. Want the back-story first? Click My Love Songs tab at the top, and before Valentine’s Day, I’ll tell the most beautiful part of this story.
On the Shadow and a Confession
My focus is deep in sick baby boy, my only experience with RSV, and it scares me. He stops breathing, turns blue, then grunts, and re-pinks. I feel the rise and fall of his chest, and in the unrest, awake all night, my mind returns again to my secret, the affair with the one I didn’t love. Now it is my hiding place, where I go by instinct in guilt and discomfort, and now I’m overshadowed, the light in my eyes dim.
Seth has been away in Africa. I pick him up, and he spills the most beautiful and the most despairing and contradictory set of details. He cries and I love him and guilt rides with us all to the hospital. Ian suffocates – we all suffocate – for days before the sleep comes.
Soon after, my own heart surgery distracts for a while. The electricity in my heart fires a little less. I expect more sleep. I expect less chest pain. I expect anxiety to mind my Christian bidding.
All the names of Jesus I know in the world aren’t moving the shadow. There is no obedient “get thee behind me.”
Fear so often jolts my sleep. I wake and go, to that throne room, mad, and I say, “I know you can change this. Why aren’t you healing me?” Quickly thrown from there deeply into rare sleep, I delve into dream world
where my living room is crisp clean, so I go to the backyard to pick up the toys. Under every toy is a giant coiled snake. Under everything is a snake.
I wake from there, terrified. “What is it, God? Snakes are so cliché. Please don’t make me tell Seth. Please. Please.” And then away again to sleep, I dream.
My living room is perfectly clean, so I go to the backdoor to straighten the toys there. As I open the door, snakes pour in my house. Waist high, they hiss, and I have the hardest time shutting the door. They slither and hide under my baby’s toys.
Awake again, “Okay. I’ll tell him, but you’ll have to help me.”
Third dream, just to make sure I get it: the snakes writhe on every toy in the house to where the toys can’t be seen. They’ve taken over.
It’s day now but early enough for pitch dark. Seth is not in the bed. I walk un-rested to the living room where he sits with such a sad face. “What’s wrong?” I say. And he’s had a dream, too, so he says, “I hate to do this, but I need to know if there’s something you need to tell me.”
I sit down.
“Yes. I kissed him.”
He weeps, and the sun pours in, with my shame splayed there, exposed, under a name of Jesus I hadn’t remembered in a long time, Merciful Judge – around whom stands no shadow.