My husband works late shift which means I don’t sleep until he is home. Even then, he’s not ready for bed and I’m there trying to keep awake until he’s ready for sleep.
“Why?” I’ve asked myself many times, like this morning, “I’ve responsibilities of my own!”
It is for this reason that I wake now after only a few hours of sleep.
I get up and trudge to my daughter’s room to wake her for school. She has a fever and a sore throat. There will definitely be no school today. I’m concerned but also relieved as this means I can go back to bed after caring for her. I bring her some medications, soothe her, sing to her, love her. She closes her eyes and I tiptoe out of the room and head back to my own. I quietly pass my son who is still too young for school and hopefully will sleep for a while yet. I shiver as I pass by his door. I pause. I hear nothing, shake it off, and go on with a smile. Ah, sweet rest awaits me!
I climb into my warm bed and snuggle close to my still sleeping husband. Another sigh of contentment, a yawn, and I drift off.
“Wake up!” a voice, deep and resonating all around me shatters my peace with its urgency. “Get up now!”
My eyes fly open as my heart beats in rapid staccato, firing adrenalin through my veins. I sit up and look around. There’s no one in the room but my husband who sleeps on undisturbed. I hear nothing else and think that I must be more tired than I thought. I snuggle back down and squeeze my eyes shut, still tense and confused.
“You must get up now and go to the living room,” the voice commands and fills me, its timber and power creating goose bumps on my skin. No one is there, yet urgency fills me and lifts me from my bed as I obey.
“This is nuts. I need to sleep!” I gripe as I go quietly past the kids’ rooms and down the hall to the living room. “Why must I go and what am I looking for?”
The answer immediately stuns me when I see a bottle of children’s vitamins lying open and empty on the carpet before me. I had just bought that bottle and opened it the day before! My mind races and tries to push through the fear that paralyzes me. A split second becomes an eternity!
I am fully awake now as I race to my son; our midnight raider of all things that beckon his curiosity in the wee hours. We had taken to locking his door from the outside once he was settled at night, to keep him safe and our rest secured. I thought I had locked it but… no, the hook dangled, unlatched. My heart leapt again into my throat as I rushed into his room and knelt beside his still, sleeping form. I could not rouse him, he would not awaken, could not. He was not asleep, he was unconscious! It couldn’t have been that long, a few hours at most from the time I went to bed! Wake up!
Time passed as in a nightmare, a blur of panic and action; the house awakened and my parents called to be there as I and my husband raced with our son being taken to the hospital. He was whisked away from us and we were left to stand with cold knots of fear curling around in our guts, our minds screaming and hearts praying that they would save him. A nurse came to get information from us, to clarify what the ambulance attendants had gathered. The detached look on her face did nothing to hide the concern in her eyes. We were left to sit, and wait. Time now lost all meaning and stretched our nerves taut to breaking points, ready to shatter at any moment.
A doctor came, approaching us in the slow motion a parent fears. My breath was blocked, strangled by the need to scream out as my heart slammed and seemed to threaten to stop.
“He is alive,” the man’s words washed through me and I swallowed the scream, though my heart still trembled and my breath cut short in tiny gasps. “He is in critical condition however. We tubed and pumped his stomach but with the high metabolism of his age, much of what he ingested has gone on into his systems. We have flushed what we can and countered what we could, but the iron in the vitamins is what is causing the concern. The quantity you believe he ingested is deadly. His brain, his liver… he is in a coma. Had you found him even as little as a half hour later than you did, he would have died.”
I called home with the news and was told that my father had taken the dog to the vet as she would not awaken either. She lost the puppies she was carrying but would be all right. My son must have shared his find with her. That meant that he did not ingest as much as we thought. There was hope! I reported this to the nurse as we were led to his room in ICU. My hopes soared until I saw him lying there so small, still, and pale. My eyes followed the trails of tubes and wires everywhere, machines working for him to keep him alive. I sat beside him and took his tiny hand, willing him to live, and trembled with fear and pain.
“Well done,” the voice whispered to me as I looked upon my son. The next words filled me with comfort and warmth as if He were holding me, and indeed, perhaps He was as He said, “He will live.”
And he did; strong, healthy, and whole.
In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where we experience a deeper sense of God’s presence in our everyday world, His grace. A “thin place” is where for a moment, the spiritual world and the natural world intersect.