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Nightstand Reading

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Today is my first Saturday at home that I can remember having the entire day, free and alone, set out before me….probably in 24 years. I have done lots of traveling these last 8 months, (Michael left this world 8 months ago today), have had weekend guests, child responsibilities, keeping our foster child and his younger brother over many weekends, and many other things. This weekend is a first for me. Julia is at a swim meet at Auburn University for the entire weekend. I wanted to go with her, but after praying about it, I felt like the Lord wanted me to stay home and be quiet in my home. I gave the responsibility over to my sister to take her to the meet and am now looking at a whole day in my house, and for the most part, alone. Michael Anthony is playing tennis with a friend of mine and then having lunch. Mia is picking him up after he gets home and taking him to the homecoming football at Belhaven University. My in-laws have invited me and Michael Anthony over for dinner tonight, which means I don't even need to stop to think about what we will eat for dinner.

I have spent some time quietly with God listening and wondering what I should do today in the still of my house. I know now. It will be a day to begin the process of reordering my bedroom. Not only will I begin Michael’s clothes today, but also there are many things still in our room that I need to finally put away. I have not touched a whole bunch of items that are sitting on an ottoman in the corner and have been since the week following his accident…. A huge Ziploc bag full of all of the loose items from his car,another big manilla envelope which has "evidence bag" printed across it, his briefcase, his leather meeting book, his camera bag, copies of the newspaper with the article about his accident on the front page, a large envelope of letters from the Boy Scout troop, his Bose system from his desk at his office, his black leather slouch bag he used for Boy Scouts which had been his dad’s and has his name on it. His broken glasses, which he had been wearing at the time of the accident, had also been sitting on top of his leather meeting book for many months. About a month ago I tucked them away in his personal catch all drawer upon realizing a change had developed in how I looked at them. In the beginning, the whole pile of things on the ottoman, including the glasses, made me feel like he was not so far away and that he had not been gone too long. It all brought me comfort. As time passed, it all changed. Seeing his glasses and his other personal items began to torment me because they were everything that brought the trauma and the tragedy to my memory in a split second when I would glance that direction. Everything is covered in a thin layer of glass dust,both inside and out. It is just plain heart wrenching to carefully glean through everything in those bags. I moved the glasses and thought, one day, when I am ready, I will put away the rest. It is time, for my own mental health, to finish going through all of it and put it all away. I want and need my room to be a calm, safe place. Of course, there will forever be an empty feeling because I am alone in it, but at least I can move away any of the items that bring back memories of the accident, or what he was doing when he left…..like the books he was reading on his nightstand.

We have always been the type to read multiple books at a time and have also kept “the books to read next” on our nightstands, alongside the books we were presently reading. I feel it is time that I make both nightstands mine, instead of one still looking like he just walked away from his reading. He was never able to read very long in bed before he would drift off to sleep. I used to take pleasure in watching him fall asleep while propped up with a book resting on his stomach. The top of the book would slowly drift back until his fingers would feel the weight shift, then he would catch his breath quickly and snap the book right again and try to read some more. Finally, it would fall all of the way back and it would still be in his hands but in a strong slant while he began his heavy breathing. (I have always thought reading books in bed, side by side, was romantic in its own unique way. It would always lead to little "vignette" conversations….vignette meaning “a short impressionistic scene that focuses on one moment or gives a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting.” These small, snapshot conversations often held great ideals, concerns, and life questions. I think a person can be, and is, most real, or most themselves, at night, in bed, in these periodic conversations. Even when it led to drifting off to sleep, because it meant that we were so at peace near one another.) It also took him a long time to finish books because he mediated on what he read for a long time. While reading deeper books, he would read about one page and want to talk about it and then would work it out in his thoughts for another couple of days, bring it into conversations with other people, then move on in the book. I wanted to document what he was reading, or planning to read next for my sake and for the sake of the children, in case we want to read them some day to share in his interests. Following are the list of books that have remained unopened for 8 months and will now go into my library for future reading. They range in his three favorite topics: spiritual, parenting, and architecture.

The Rest of God - Restoring your soul by restoring SABBATH by Mark Buchanan
Locking Arms by Stu Weber
The Voice of the Martyrs – Extreme Devotion
by Huss, Logara, Wong, Jeltonashko, Lap Ma
Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer
Parenting from Your Strengths by John Trent
The Man in the Mirror by Patrick M. Morley
Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud
House by Tracy Kidder
Go Green by Nancy Taylor
Green from the Ground Up by Johnston & Gibson

My nightstand is stocked full of my own books that have not been touched. Reading has been very hard for me to do. It requires turning off my thoughts and allowing myself to slide into a new place. It is extremely difficult to focus on anything - fiction, non-fiction, Bible, magazine articles….anything. The only two books I have read in completion in 8 months is Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo and A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. They both were read during times of personal retreat when I was in a good place to be quiet and meditate on it as I read. I have high hopes of beginning to read again soon on a regular basis. I have enough in my “read next” pile to last me over a year. The reading will not begin today. Today, now, I will begin to go through the glass dust covered personal items of Michael’s, part of his clothes, and place his books on the shelf in the study downstairs. I know God will be with me for every moment of it..... It will be hard but good.


Anonymous Says:
October 22, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Enjoy your time as you continue to heal and progress. Glad to see you read the Todd Burpo book, and sure you enjoyed it, as did I. So good to know that our true reality lies beyond this realm and will be infinite. I know God continues to hold you in the hollow of His hand and give you those "hinds feet" prayed for you. From the high places, we gain a broader perspective. Blessings.....

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