Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Nights are the Hardest

It's a beautiful morning here in sunny Florida. The ocean's a brilliant blue, and the surf is gently curling onto the beach. Safer conditions for swimming. Safer conditions for reflecting on a reality that's haunted me for the past 250 hours. (but who's counting?)

The nights are the hardest.

In our former and all-too-short life together as a family, typically I was up and out of the house before Leslie and TJ got up. Leslie wasn't much of a morning person, and it was all she could do to get herself out of bed-- before she was sick, even-- just to have a cup of coffee and read her bible a little before the rest of her day was consumed caring for, looking after, and keeping up with a very active little boy... and a dog... and a house... and so-on... Evenings and nights were typically Mommy's time off, and I took over. Let her do the things she still had/ wanted to do from the day... tidying up around the house, checking her email, watching a little TV, catching up with a friend on the phone. TJ and I would have so much fun, just being silly, doing our night-time routine... Bath time, basement time (I'd turn on a local seasonal sporting event on the TV, and he and I would play that sport while I half-watched the TV. Regardless of the sporting season, the time usually led to some good wrestling and tickling matches.)... Then story, prayer, and bed-time. Often, Leslie would step in to relieve me-- take over for prayer and rocking, or whatever... but mostly, the evenings were "Daddy time" for TJ. It's probably not much different for most families with "stay-at-home Mom's". (God bless you ladies!!)

Fast forward back to "these days"... Not a whole lot different for TJ, really. Even when considering his life prior to the last few months of Leslie's failing health. But, for me, it's been devastating. I'm realizing how much of what I said and did during those precious hours every night-- the silliness, the games we'd play, what I'd do to wring another joyful giggle from his belly-- I was actually doing for HER. She was always listening-- through the baby monitor that was wired into the kitchen and basement, or just lying there in bed, or doing email on the computer nearby... So much of the fun TJ and I had together was really about making Mommy smile. The first week without her was so hard... especially from the hours of about 7pm until whenever it was that mercy was granted me in the form of sleep. Mornings aren't as bad as I'd expected-- there's so much to do. That energetic little boy to entertain. Breakfast to make. Etc... But these nights...

I've always known how much I needed her around. Not just to raise TJ, "keep the house", etc... But even more so, just for her to be there... the calm and order she brought to my life, and the sense she made of the thoughts that spin around my brain as I reflect on the events of a day... of a life... But I didn't realize just how MUCH I needed her until...

...these nights.

The sadness-- no, sadness isn't the right word. The aching... maybe... the NAUSEA, perhaps, starts setting in about the time TJ gets out of the bathtub and I start putting on his P-J's. It's kind of like the clickity-clank of the lift underneath a roller coaster going up-up-up... my mind uneasily settles into the inevitable fate of the car I'm sitting in as my destination grows closer with every passing second. A lot like that, actually, but that drop (or crash, rather) is not nearly as fun. Not fun at all. Several nights, I've just kept the little guy up a little later, and just go to bed when he does (quite early for me), just so I don't have to experience the "crash" after he's asleep.

It's not normally a teary sadness-- those nights I decide to stay up to endure the "crash", for my own mental health, and to allow my heart to experience this rather than avoid it. No, it's a dry, lonely sadness... this achey nausea in the space somewhere above or beyond my stomach. Crying just seems to distract me, usually. Don't get me wrong... when I'm able, the floodgates open and I don't believe in kleenexes, (farmer's blows and long sleeves-- men, you know what I'm talking about), so it can get really, really messy. But for the most part, I just sit there and stare, dry-eyed. At the stars, at the ceiling fan, the wall maybe...

A couple nights ago, after TJ went to sleep, I sat on the balcony of the condo with a cigar and sip of my favorite adult beverage. I figured I was long overdue, so I let my mind go and let my heart follow wherever it wandered. The crescent moon set in the west earlier that evening, so the view over the Atlantic was so dark that night, which was only accentuated by the humid haze that was setting in over the water. The stars were barely visible, but as my eyes adjusted to the night, I began to notice more and more of them. It was a calm night, and the surf was soft. But due to the moonless haze, the ocean seemed to disappear beyond the breakers. In fact, there was no horizon that was visible. The ocean faded into the sky seamlessly... as if I could swim all the way up to the stars if I just took the elevator down to the beach right then and there. I was tempted. TJ sleeping in the back room kept me where I was. So I just sat there and looked at the stars and listened to the waves.

There is something calming knowing that the same God who hung the stars in their place and gave them a name long before our forefathers of "science" did, is the same God who knows every molecule of water and salt in every wave as it meets the shore... and He's the same God who was right there beside me, helping the soothing salt and water of my tears grow and roll down my neck. Yet, so lonely to think... where IS she right now? Where is Heaven? Further than the stars? I know in the eternal sense of things she's not very far... but for me, where I sit... "...beyond our galaxy..."??? Really? But those stars are so far away! "I miss you, Baby," is all I could say. "You should be here right now. Sitting here with me. Listening to the waves." She loved those kinds of nights. She'd even put up with some occasional cigar smoke-- just wouldn't kiss me afterword. But I didn't mind so much. It was just so right-- so perfect-- to share those nights with her. I know she's still "here" in some sense. But we all know it's just not nearly the same thing. That's why we cry at funerals.

I'd do anything for a few more of those kiss-less nights, just to have her sitting there with me on that balcony, imagining together about swimming beyond the breakers until we reached the stars...

...the nights are the hardest.

25 comments:

dana said...

Tyson...
I've been up the past few nights, also contemplating heaven. I try to visualize it and picture Lesie enjoying the presence of Jesus Himself, but my humanness limits my ability to imagine. I long for her to sit down and describe it to me, as only Leslie can....
my tears flow with yours. We're anxious to see you in FL...

Minders said...

Tyson-

We've never met before but I found your blog through some friends. I don't know what else to say except that I have been crying over your loss and lifting you and your son up in prayer daily. I pray that God can comfort you at this time.

Mindy Anliker

jenny said...

Tyson,
Your authenticity in this post brought me to tears. As you described your daily routine with Leslie and TJ it reminds me so much of our evenings...Ben coming home from work and taking our kids to play in the basement so I can get the dishes from dinner done, etc. I love to listen to the outbursts of laughter from the basement as I'm sure that brought joy to Leslie. My heart breaks for you to not have that normal routine now. When you have a marriage in which your spouse is truly your soulmate (which is obvious that Leslie was that to you) it is mind boggling to think of life here without that companionship. I praise the Lord that He had given you and Leslie such a connected marriage. Thank you for your honesty in your post and we will specifically be lifting you up in prayer through the evening hours.

Jenny (and Ben) Calfee
calcrew.wordpress.com

Krista said...

I never kiss my husband when he's been smoking his pipe either. Maybe next time I will, just once, for you.
I hope your time there in Florida is good for you and TJ, for relaxing and transitioning.

Erica Lynn said...

I found your blog through another blog I read. As I sit here I'm trying to think of something to say, but the words won't come. I'm deeply sorry for your loss. I pray for comfort for you, TJ, and the rest of your family.

Anonymous said...

Tyson,
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your heart. Obviously so many of us have no idea what to say right now to grieve with you, but I know I have been thinking of Leslie each day and thinking some of those same thoughts about Heaven.
One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 2:6 because it says that God "seated" us with Christ in the heavenly realms, speaking of it as an already-accomplished fact. I love that the past tense is used, because it is as though somehow, outside of our own time and space as we understand it, we are all together, already seated with Him.
I was just thinking that about Leslie yesterday.
I miss her too very much.

Thank you for sharing so honestly. We will see you when you are back in town. We will be praying for you especially as evenings come.

Erin G.

Melinda said...

If you ever lose your day job, you can definitely be a writer. Your detail and ability to "paint the picture" are amazing. We are thinking of you constantly and asking those hard questions, too. One day we'll know the answers but it's hard to wait, isn't it?

Jenni Bliss said...

So glad to have you back writing Tyson. Have been a crazy blog checker since your last entry on Leslie's journey. You are teaching many with your transparency, including myself. Leslie was my cousin, and you are a brother. I have always imagined nights would be the hardest if my soul mate was ever taken. We will walk through that with you. You and Leslie have become part of my soul, and are never far from my thoughts. Thanks for allowing others to walk through this with you (even continents a part). If you ever want to visit Panama...
Steve and Jenni Bliss6

Nicole said...

Hey Ty, Thinking of you especially in the evenings. I am so glad you are surrounded by the contemplative ocean...perfect setting for grief, really, if grief and perfect can co-exist. The last posting on Leslie's blog- the one about how to make a "memorial" to Leslie by "loving on your spouse", etc. has really been resonating in my mind. I have shared it with others as a sort of rallying cry to work at marriage with passion and zeal. Looking forward to watching the ocean with you!

Matt said...

dude, i am sorry beyond words. i love you and miss you...

Jamie said...

Thank you for keeping up with your blog. Also thank you for the reminder to love on and enjoy our spouse. Praying for you all....

Becky said...

Tyson,
I've been reading and praying since I came upon your blogs about 2 weeks ago. Although we don't know each other, I have thought of you, T.J. and Leslie often during that time. I'm just one more stranger, but I'll be keeping you in prayer - especially during the evenings. God Bless you and your darling son :-)

Becky Marruffo

betsy said...

t~
i've been up all hours of the night since 7.22 when my son was born. you, tj, and leslie often come to mind and i pray. i stare down at this new little life and out the window, at the same stars, different sky... and pray for you.
know that.
know that in the lonely hours of the night you are surrounded in thoughts, prayers from an old friend.
blessings and heart pouring over... b

kim p said...

Praying for you tonight that God will comfort your aching heart. I pray that you will feel the nearness of His presence in a special way.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."
2 Corinthians 1:17

kim p said...

Oops! Those verses were 3-5.

Brenton and Amber said...

"I'll be standing in the gap for you- even when this world brakes your heart in two- when your life is consumed by your fear and your doubt, I'll be standing in the gap for you."

I'm praying, my family is praying and my whole church here in Chicago is praying for you and your sweet little "T.J.". Blessing on you my friend! Amber

Anonymous said...

Tyson,
I cried and cried after reading this yesterday. I wish I could think of the right words to say... But I did want to let you know that, like so many others, I'm "listening".
You are a great writer. Thank you for letting us share in this chapter of your life and for letting us share in your grief.
We look forward to seeing you when you get home. We continue to pray for you.
Emily and the Neal Family

Erica said...

Tyson,

We've never met, I found your blog through other blog friends. You and sweet TJ are in our thoughts and prayers. Crying with you as you share your heart.

I can't imagine the pain you are feeling as you grieve this intense loss. Praying for Gods perfect peace as you mourn your sweet Leslie.

Anonymous said...

Tyson-
One of my favorite verses-
Because Your loving kindness is BETTER than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus will I bless You while I live, I will lift up my hands in Your name. Psalm 63:3,4

I was married in the Washington AC church when Leslie was only 3, but I remember her well and have kept you all in my prayers and will continue to do so. Thanks for your willingness to share so openly with us.
Sandy Guingrich
Indianapolis

Brittany said...

My anxiety has got the best of me many of nights ESPECIALLY nights. Even if it is thinking about a wonderful place like heaven. I have always had such a "fear" or anxiousness about dying, not knowing what is really going to happen. Les has given me a softer image of that. It definitley gives me more of a peace about it! Our hearts are crying out to God with yours! May your evenings be full of love and comfort...
Love,
Brittany G.

Andrea said...

Thank you for letting us in on your reflections and your own "journey." Looking forward to getting another glimpse into Leslie on the 30th. We're praying for your families. See you in Archbold! Love, Andrea and Marc Reinhard

Anonymous said...

Tyson,

Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your life now. I think of her voice and laugh often, mostly her wonderful sarcasm :) Jeff, Karis, and I will be there for the final "tree service" on September 6th. Until then, we will keep reading this, and keep praying.

Peace,
Leah

Anonymous said...

Tyson,
I've been reading faithfully since early May, and I realized it's time I tell you how much you and Leslie have touched my heart. Thank you so much for letting us "strangers" in on your excruciating journey. It's been a unique experience to grieve so deeply for someone I've never met, but I'm so grateful you've let us in. I know God is using your words in powerful ways. Will continue to lift you guys up to Him, especially at night.

Anonymous said...

I've been with you and Leslie on your journey and I have prayed and cried for you both. My husband left me and my children last year and even though our situations are different the pain you describe is very familiar. I could tell you that I've found God to be present and friends to be faithful and although that's true I know that it doesn't take away the ache you feel. Instead, I offer you the small consolation that someone else knows your pain and is praying for you from a heart that feels it in a similar way.

Jilli said...

I know you are so relieve Leslie is not suffering anymore, but I know you also miss her so very much. I really have no words of wisdom, just that we're thinking of you and aching for you.