Pain is a part of life. There is no greater pain for a parent than to watch your child experience it. But one of life’s greatest blessings is family. It is the soft place to land. It is the hand that will help you up, dust you off, and place you firmly back on your feet.
Our two youngest children share a room and bunk beds. Alexa was given the top bunk because at the time, Nixon was only three and we didn’t feel comfortable with him navigating the ladder. The top bunk quickly became Alexa’s special place. The walls above her bed adorned with pictures she lovingly created and each of her 52 stuffies given a special place along all 4 edges of her bed. We would tuck her in at night and scarcely be able to find her among all her creatures. She was the only one who could make her bed because each stuffie had its own special place, that she has picked, and only she could remember precisely where each one belonged. She spent hours reading and playing up top, and it was the place she sought refuge when she felt the world was letting her down. Her bed was her solace.
Our eldest son is off to university this fall, and while he is still living at home now, he has great plans and dreams and all of them include moving out! The little ones love sharing a room but we can foresee them wanting their own individual space in the nearing future, and the opening up of a bedroom when Austin leaves home. Nixon periodically mentions desiring a turn on the top bunk and so Jeff and I decided now that he is six the safety issue is no longer at play. After much deliberating about how we should do this, we told the kids of the planned move that was to take place that evening. It would end up being an evening we will never forget.
We watched Alexa’s heart break before us. She wasn’t exactly angry or bitter, it was more that she was heart broken. She ran up to her bed and sobbed her heart out. The place where she usually goes to find comfort was then the very source of her pain. “I wish I would have had one last night here. Just one more please. I just want to really know it will be the last time because I didn’t know last night. Please” she begged. But as her parents we know her best, and prolonging the move would have been harder on her, and so we knew we needed to stick to our plan. We knew what she didn’t know; prolonging the pain isn’t always best. Sitting in sorrow is a sad and lonely place.
All the while she had a little brother looking on with eyes that reflected her pain. They aren’t just siblings, they aren’t just roommates, they are best friends. Nixon calls Alexa his “sweet little angel” and to see him hurting along side her was as painful as watching her grieve. He was deeply aware that it was his longing that was causing her pain. Jeff and I knew we had to do a good job dealing with this situation because their little eyes were on us. We decided we needed to show our children that we are a family and when one person is in pain we all are, but together we can get through. We realized that to an eight year old girl, this was devastation; the kind of pain she would experience as a teenager when her first boyfriend broke up with her, or when she was an adult and life dealt her a crushing blow. This kind of pain was all birthed from the same place.
A hot shower sometimes helps; something about being refreshed physically somehow also refreshes emotionally. I started the shower for her and took her into my arms and just held her. I wiped away her tears, and over the top of her head, I quietly wiped away mine. I asked her if there was anything I could do? Thankfully she didn’t state what was in both of our hearts, “undo what you have done. Take the words back and I will be okay”. Instead she asked me to pray for her. So as the bathroom filled with steam, I prayed that God would give her his peace, the kind we don’t understand but changes the churning in our hearts to deep breathing. I prayed that she would find joy and that she would be given all she needed to get through this. That it would make her stronger, kinder and more filled with compassion. And selfishly I prayed for me. That I would be given what I needed to get through it and the wisdom to do what would speak to her heart. The heart He had created and knew best.
As I left her in the bathroom I could see her small frame sitting on the floor of the shower with her knees pulled tight to her chest and her little shoulders shuttering with each sob. I could hear the steady stream of water flowing over her and I prayed it was washing away the ache in her heart.
I knew Jeff and I needed God’s help. And we needed it quick.
Stay tuned for the happy conclusion in “Stepping Forward” coming soon.