Leslie's sister is the 2nd most amazing woman I've ever met. (No disrespect, Dana, but you know I'm a little biased toward your sister.) :) Dana's wisdom and intelligence are matched only by her own compassion and love. And she was the closest of friends with Leslie. She and her husband, Curt, have shaken up the routine and order of their own lives, now (it was an intricate and complex routine as it was-- they have 4 boys of their own, ages 1-8), in order to honor one of Leslie's dying wishes, that Dana might be a sort of "surrogate mother" to TJ. This morning, as she does every Monday, she packed her boys into the minivan before sunrise and proceeded to navigate her way through the streets of suburbia so that TJ could start his week in his own house, and so I could leave as early as possible for work, in hopes to "beat the rush" to my office. I wrestle every week with accepting this unbelievably selfless gesture from her. And every week, I humbly accept. As she and her mom keep telling me, "We're in this together, Ty." Several times a week, we all talk on the phone or email, or whatever, just sharing our days. Friday, Dana had a rough morning-- full of sadness and hard thoughts, unable to sleep the night before-- and emailed me to "share it with me". My heart broke for her... Indeed, our hearts break TOGETHER every day... sharing each other's burden. Sharing the SAME burden. (What a beautiful testimony to the Body of Christ, and a Christian family, no?) (Reminds me to pray for TJ's future wife and family...) Anyway, I had one of those mornings myself, this morning, before Dana even hit the road and bobbed and weaved and waded her way through the flooded route from Wheaton to Bolingbrook.
I haven't been dreaming much, lately. Sleep is simply respite, for the most part. When I do dream, Leslie is often there with me, playing a roll in my dreams just as she would have before. And I'm always sad when I wake up, to "lose her all over again", but it's typically a pretty peacful experience, knowing she's whole again, (indeed, more "whole" than ever!) and knowing that "we're doing just fine" here-- God is providing. But last night-- or early this morning, rather-- I truly believe I was "attacked by the enemy" in my dreams. As a Christian, I typically don't like to give Satan credit for much of anything. Why even acknowledge him? He'd just relish in that. My "take", if you will, is that it's kind of like standing naked on the beach and cursing the sun for your sunburn. Bad stuff happens. It's part of "The Fall of Adam". "The Curse". Yes, it's Satan. But it's also "just life". So wear your sunscreen and try to enjoy the beach. Or shut up and go inside. But stop staring at the sun and shaking your fists. All you're doing is letting it burn you more, and allowing it to blind your eyes to the beauty around you, on top of it all.
Anyway, forgive my tangent, but in the wee hours this morning, plain and simple, I was "attacked"... I don't want to go into details, because they're quite disturbing, and very dis-jointed... I'm not sure I could even describe them if I tried. But in the wake of the dream, I woke up in the dark, feeling scared for Leslie. Feeling I had abandoned her. Feeling no peace about her "victory". Feeling she was still stuck there-- suffering, dying, and it was somehow my responsibility... my fault. My mind still wasn't fully awake, so I just stared at the twilight coming in through the blinds for I-don't-know-how-long, turning these thoughts and trying to piece together the details of the dream that woke me-- trying to make sense of it. It finally dawned on me (or the Spirit had had enough and decided to whisper some peace, or whatever), that the dream was a LIE. It was simply not of God. The very ambiance of the scenes as they echoed through my mind were dark, cold, full of fear for Leslie, and not love for her. At one point of the dream, she even got up from her bed of suffering and tried to hug me... and I tried to hug her back and tell her "I love you", but physically could not... something was preventing me from wrapping my arms around her. Like I said... it was all just a LIE.
After wrestling with it all for awhile (I don't know how long, it was, really), there was no chance of going back to sleep. I decided to just get up, do some dishes, some laundry, and take a shower and start the day. In the shower, I prayed, as I typically do. I was frustrated as I confessed my weakness to God, that such a stupid "flaming arrow" of a lie could burn so deeply like that. I asked Him to search me and show me what sin I'm holding onto that allows evil such a "foot-hold" into my subconscious. And then, finally, I just gave (or re-gave) my life-- my day, my heart, my mind, my dreams-- to Him. I asked for Him to pour His wisdom, discernment, and grace into me, once again. Maybe it was the hot water pouring over my head and down my back... or maybe it was the Holy Spirit soothing my soul, in an immediate answer to prayer... I tend to believe it was both. But before I'd finished shaving, that "senseless peace" had returned to me. I smiled at God's goodness. At Leslie's whole-ness and completion today. And marveled at His provision and grace, once again. (Oh, and I got the mess in the kitchen taken care of before Dana arrived, too! "All things work together for good...") :)
So yes, overall, I'm daily amazed at how "well" things are going. There are tears, still, and sad moments. I miss Leslie. But TJ and I seem to be settling into this new "routine". I'm even enjoying my life. The doubt and guilt I wrestled with, in consideration of this fact, last week seem to have been covered, again, by the grace of Christ. I just hadn't expected to feel this "well" this soon. But instead of letting myself get frustrated about it, or question myself about it, I'm just "turning it back to Him in praise", as I've sung in that song, so many times. Why is it that we sometimes tend to feel guilty for our blessings? Of COURSE, we don't "deserve" them! That's why they're called "blessings" and not "rewards" or "wages". Again... GRACE! Hallelujah! This morning... this week... this LIFE... my burden is again lifted. In its place, blessings of peace. Certainly, there will be worse days and weeks to come, as this "grieving" thing comes in waves, they tell me. But when the next one hits, God will provide another board. I'll grab it and ride that wave back to shore, then as well. The salt will burn my open wounds... the fear of falling... but, OH! The THRILL of the ride!
p.s. TJ got sick this weekend. I mention it, because it is one thing I had really stressed about, imagining what it would be like once Leslie wasn't around to take care of us both, when one of us got sick. He "puketed" all morning on Saturday, which kept us home from our weekend travel plans-- which turned out to be quite a blessing. He's such a good boy when he's sick-- not whiney, just sleepy and cuddly. It's the only time he will actually SIT and watch a DVD all the way through. And the virus was actually pretty short-lived. He woke up Sunday morning back at 100%, and we went to Church together. And we had a very restful, quiet, weekend at home together. God is good. ALL the time.