Sleep was still a problem. The wine helped some. Going to bed alone was a death march to a pool of Loneliness. After mustering up the courage, I would enter. Then slowly sink into it. Until my head was submerged. Once my head was under the water, I was held down, unable to resurface. The suffocation would start. The struggle, ensue. Slowly at first. Then more intense. Violently trying to surface. Gasping for air. Oxygen. The oxygen of companionship. The oxygen of relationship. But there was none. Just the struggle. Tossing. Turning. Sobbing. Wishing that there was reprieve from the agony. The agony of Loneliness who was strangling the life out of me. I would fight it until I could no longer. Slowly. Weakened. My strength ebbed away. The struggle would subside. Sinking. I would surrender to my slumber in the pool of Loneliness.
In waking life I felt like the man lying on the side of the road. Stripped and beaten by bandits. Robbed. Half dead. Bleeding out. A mess. A broken mess. To my dismay, as many of my friends learned of my plight, they didn’t help me. They turned away. Crossed the street.
Abandoned in my hour of need by those I thought friends. The amazing network of people who were so supportive when Dean was sick, evaporated. Maybe if I hadn’t made mistakes. Maybe if I mourned the way people thought I should. Is not a friend supposed to love at all times? People are going to have an opinion about what I should do? Shouldn’t do? Judge me? Criticize me? From their steady jobs. Comfortable homes. Happy marriages. Healthy families.
They have absolutely no idea.
From so many.
And I resented it.
I resented the idea you would only offer love and support if you like what someone is doing. How is that love? That is not love. And I silently resolved. Lord, I pray that I would not be the callous Christian. Whose love is conditional. And abandons those who are most in need. Help me God. Help me be the kind of friend who loves at all times. Especially those who are hurting. Broken. Lost. Abandoned. Robbed. Cheated. Lied to. Through their struggles and their trials and their mistakes and failures. I want to move in close, get down on my knees, and whisper in their ear, “I’m here.” Help me love like you love.
And so I became grateful for my mistakes. Grateful for my trials. Grateful my friends had abandoned me. So that God could show me. He could show me exactly how it feels. To know what it’s like. And to learn how to love people.
God was doing something in my heart and I cherished it. I started to lean into Him again. I treasured the moments, when I knew He was close. I began to recognize the people that knew Him. The ones that knew Him well. Because they were like Him. They weren’t condemning and discouraging. They believed in me. They spoke life into me. They loved me.
He never left me. Never once. Not when I pushed Him away. Not when I ran away. Not when I ignored Him. Not when I disobeyed. Not when I was drunk. Not when I was completely disinterested in Him. Not only did He not leave. He pursued me. He showed His love for me. He brought people to encourage me. He provided for me. He showed me He was close to me. He comforted me. He showed me that He is so good. And so faithful. In my faithlessness, He was faithful. In my wickedness, He was good. In my indifference, He was kind and merciful. What an amazing God He is. That I do not deserve His love. There is no way I ever could. And yet, He lavishes it on me…even when I don’t want it. His love never runs out. Never dries up. Never gives up. It never fails. It really doesn’t. And I began to learn that it really is Him that’s good. It’s not me. He alone is good. It is only Him in me that is good. You alone are good my God. Let me not forget. It is not I that is good, but You.
And then a dream. Dean. I was sitting in a chair in a living room. He was sitting on a couch adjacent. Laying on his back. His hair long. His skin olive. His build was strong and sturdy. His face was alive with gladness. He had Maddox in his arms. I watched as he was blew raspberries on his neck. And then spoke to him in his booming, joy-filled voice. I could see and hear vividly. Maddox was giving the most delightful belly chuckle. Laughing loudly and wildly. Giving squeals of delighting in daddy’s play and attention. I was aware was dreaming, but wanted to enjoy it. Hold onto it as long as I could. Savor as much as I could. I drank in the sound of my son’s joy. The look on Dean’s face. Relishing the blissful sound of my son’s laughter mingled with his father’s.