Time can gentle memories till there are no hard edges or rough smudges.
Or it can, with each succeeding year, chisel certain events to such razor points that the mind is afraid to get too close for fear of the cut.
Five years ago when calamity was stacked on affliction and coated with heartache, and I still wait for time to work its magic and soften the memories.
Funny. The only fuzzy event is the innocuous one. We made a September middle-of-the-night visit to the emergency room for my husband’s infected tooth, joking that our lives were uneventful enough to make the ER a highlight.
If we hadn’t joked, would things have been different? Do I believe in a cosmic satirist who takes thoughtless words of fragile humans and turns them against those same pieces of puny mortality?
No… I don’t.
A few scant weeks later my husband went to our finished basement during the umpteenth deluge of the month to check the windows. He walked right down into six inches of raw sewage covering the entire level. A mere six inches not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Six inches that destroyed everything it touched.
The smell had barely been bleached out when I wakened one Sunday night in October to the sound of sirens and the realization that my son Kirk wasn’t home. He had been to Bible Study, brought his girlfriend home, and disappeared. He didn’t answer my increasingly frantic calls to his cell phone. I got in the car and followed the siren song to a host of sheriff cars surrounding an ambulance.
I prayed as only a mother can pray that my son wasn’t in the ambulance. The prayer was answered, but not without another satiric twist. My Kirk was in a police car, arrested for excessive speed and evading the deputy sheriff who couldn’t maneuver dark country roads with the dexterity of a panicked 18 year old. The deputy was in the ambulance heading to the hospital, while my son was on the way to spend 3 nights in jail, shut off from family and friends and a Bible, and facing the possibility of 6 years in prison.
A good attorney bought my son some time, but couldn’t do the same for my beloved mother. We brought my boy home from jail only to rush my mom to the hospital for emergency surgery. She fought so hard to recover and we lived at the hospital and the attorney’s office and prayed and cried without ceasing.
But her poor, damaged heart got the best of her indomitable spirit. Just before the year died, after 2 months– 2 months! – in the hospital, she left it for good to go to heaven.
Fall 2006 didn’t end till it figured we were beat. Our basement was stripped to the studs, our son was facing a prison sentence and the mother we still needed so badly had left us alone.
Mom told us before she died that she had peace about her Kirk. She told us she was ready to go and she told us she loved us.
Five years later and those memories still have the power to wound.
But instead of a cosmic joker manipulating our memories against us, we have a merciful Father who works in and through them. He hasn’t eradicated the memories. Instead He has piled so many blessings on top of them that I have to work my way down to the pain.
The basement is fine; Kirk is an amazing man of God, a wonderful husband and a delight to his family and friends, with a spotless police record to boot.
My husband’s tooth has behaved admirably for five years.
I have to be honest. Mom, I miss you every day. I would take you back in a heartbeat, but you don't want to come back, do you? Can't blame you.
I know why the memory of Autumn 2006 still hurts. When the chisel hits off a vital bit of the heart, it doesn't fully heal on this down side of heaven.