I am scared. Terrified. Horrified. Daily. About everything. Big things like looking into my son’s eyes and wondering if I, like my mother, will only see those eyes on this earth for three more years before a unexpected diagnosis sweeps the remaining days past me faster than he’ll ever remember. That’s a big one. On those days, I hug him more frequently, tell him stories as he chatters back, and let him nap in my arms while I rock gently.
Little things like the twinge I get when I have a test due that I never study quite enough for, or do and fail anyway. I turn into a procrastinator on those days, counting down the minutes I have until I cannot possibly put the test off anymore. Then I trip into it in the same way I fell off the diving board for the first time by myself when I was twelve– gasping.
I feel like Wemberly out of Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henke, who worries incessantly about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Only I don’t think I’m that bad. I hope anyways. And then I begin to worry about how much I worry. Oh the cycle.
When I littler, I would lie in my bed thinking or reading too far into the night. I would stop when the whole house was asleep, and knew that it was too late. Too late because when there was only the sound of the furnace turning on and off, toilets filling up, and the sounds of breathing, I felt alone. I would get slowly out of bed, go to my sister’s side, and then my brother’s to reassure myself that they were really still there. Sometimes I would poke my sister until she groggily surfaced out of the deep sleep to mumble an irritated “What?!!”
I’d mumble something in reply, try to start a conversation to feel as if I had company, and she’d turn over with a grunt. She was usually out only moments later. She graciously adopted the art of talking in her sleep, which allowed me to extinguish the ache loneliness without getting in trouble from her tattling on me the next morning when she couldn’t get out of bed for school.
On nights that pacing and poking didn’t work, I would lie in bed and do nothing but imagine scenarios of my life. What would happen if’s and when I grow up’s turned the clock on my nightstand faster than reading could, and I’d either start crying from the awful imaginings or fall asleep by letting my mind drift.
It was those nights, however, that taught me to conquer fear. Those nights taught me to pray to a Father that was still awake to talk to. Those nights taught me I was not alone..not really. That tears stop, scenarios aren’t worth the sleeping in class at school, and life goes on whether or not you take the reigns.
Those nights taught me how to jump into something wholeheartedly despite the quaking terror. It’s because of that dark emptiness that I was able to leave home at eighteen to move to a state I had never even visited, to live and work for a family of six children that I had never really met. That ounce of hope created the courage that I needed to marry the man I had prayed for, to find a way to get through college, and to fight for my dreams.
Sometimes I let the courage take a day off, and my husband reassures me for the five-hundredth time that our finances are “fine” and no, we do not have to try to live off of last week’s leftovers to save money. That work will come in, aches and pains will pass, but if not, we will get through it because it always works out.
And despite my trepidation– it always does.