Sometimes I hear a phrase that just hits me. In a popular song, unrealted to child loss, a young man sings about his 'shadow days'.
I think this is a good term to describe this phase of my life. When you survive a loved one, or brush against death, at times it does seem as if you are living in a shadow world. This world doesn't seem as safe or even as desirable.
At times I feel things challenging me more than they ever did before. As a firefighter, you have to have enough caution to know that death is a possibility, but enough brashness to believe that it won't happen to you. If you wear your magic gloves or your SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) you will be safe (I think this is why firefighters often make the mistake of wearing turnout gear during water incidents, it is a default uniform that whispers in your mind that, yes, you can do this. So we cling to it in unfamilar circumstances.) But recently I realize this world isn't very safe. If death can steal my child in his bed, why can't she take me when I am on a roof?
I have never been as effortless on a roof as a Neal Mennano or AB Foster, but now sometimes I can feel my legs shake now. I wonder if this is indeed a phase... so I make myself go up on the roof and try to battle through it. I find it is a little like that with ropes as well sometimes.
These shadow days, I wonder, are they a phase or will they last?
I was asking this the other day and I looked up on the wall. In my house, when we first married, one of the first things I bought and hung up was the 23 psalm. It strikes me now: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
When I was new and going into my first structure fire, these were the words I prayed.
I am walking through. I will not stay here. I may not see where it ends, but like walking through a densely forested valley, I will eventually reach the top and see it is behind me.
A woman I know stated that this world is just life between the trees.
I was thinking yesterday in a moment of time snatched from my day, if there were a God but no Heaven would you still love him?
He has given me breath, my Children, Husband, Family. Rainbows, oceans, and glacier lakes with colors that are hard to describe. Let me touch the downy softness of a newborn's head and heard him gasp with delight just for me.
I decided that I would still be grateful. I should still be grateful for the short time I had. I would still love my God.
Then if there is a heaven, how much more wonderful would that be?
This is just a short wink of time, this life. Whether I am given 45, 75, or 100 years.
My son is running through the meadows of wildflowers like I once knew in Alaska as a child. In just a moment I will be with him. It is summer there, the sun never sets in that land.