In May of 2015, I woke from a troubling dream that left me feeling extremely apprehensive. In this dream, I found myself immersed in the middle of a raging sea. Enormous waves encompassed me…on all sides, all I could see were the rising waves…certain to engulf me. I remember feeling complete despair at my situation, thinking to myself, “How am I going to get out of this?” Immediately after that thought, I found myself caught up in a wave. As the wave began to crest, my body was lifted up and as the wave began to fall, I felt the weight of the wave leave my body. From there, my body was gently placed on shore…unharmed. When I woke up, I had a sense of foreboding deep within my spirit. I knew the dream meant something, but I wasn’t exactly sure just what it did mean. Some people may think I’m crazy, but I knew something was amiss. Little did I know what lie ahead for our family. Within a month of my dream, we found out that my brother had stage four lung cancer. Within four months, my brother died from his illness and within another four months my son passed away. My family had been immersed in a sea of despair that threatened to sink each and every one of us into the dark abyss of depression.
No doubt, the last 7-8 months have been a dark place for me and my family. Someone asked me the other day…If I could paint Aaron, what color would I paint him…my immediate response? All colors….like tie dye. The next question…what color would I paint myself? Instantly, I said, “Blue, because blue indicates sadness.” My friend, almost without hesitation said, “Or like blue skies.” Wow…what a perspective changer. I began to ponder on the idea of the lyrics of that song…”Blue skies smiling at me…” and I started thinking about how God had blessed us with Aaron’s presence on this earth…In a sense, His blue skiles had smiled on us all those years.
I then began to think about the things that Aaron loved on this earth even more…the things that were blue or at least the things that represented blue in one sense or another. The first thing to come to mind was the ocean and water. These were two things that Aaron truly loved. As a baby, I remember a day when we took him to a pool (for the first time) for a company cookout. He was about 18 months old. As Aaron was walking out into the water, he fell in face first. I thought for sure that he would come up crying, but when he got up, he was laughing the hardest I had ever seen. He absolutely loved it! As a resultt, we spent the entire day tossing Aaron back and forth between us, letting him go under the water and then pulling him back up…..watching him laugh and smile each and every single time. He was a natural born lover of water. He was swimming by at least 4 or 5 years old and he loved the ocean just as much. I have pictures of him at the beach at the age of 2 or 3 with pure joy on his face. The waves didn’t scare him at all…in fact, he was captivated by the crash of the waves and the plasticity of the sand. We would spend hours on the beach, playing in the waves and building the less than perfect sand castle. These are such precious memories to hold, but they also evoke a pain that brings me to my knees…a pain I never knew existed before.
In his older years, Aaron still loved the water…..He just obtained different desires to do more grown up things in the water. One year, he decided that he wanted to try his hand at paddelboarding. On that trip, the yearning to paddleboard created a sense of urgency to learn the basics to ride the board. So…he devoted the time necessary to be able to paddleboard proficiently…enough that he could stand and paddle with somewhat ease. He loved being able to first of all stand on the board, but to also being able to paddle out into the deeper water to see what was underneath. The water was so clear that he could see fish swimming underneath him, and he would do if for long periods of time, enjoying his time on the water alone. His sister tried it..and she could stand, but not as long as Aaron could. I tried it…and I only made it to my knees. But Aaron cold do it for hours. He just loved being one with God’s creation. He enjoyed the beauty and the awe of His wondrous creation.
Another past time that Aaron enjoyed and acquired at the beach was skim boarding. He would spend hours with his cousin, trying to get it just right. They would skim board….over and over…trying their hardest to hit the board just right so that they could skim on top of the water if only for a few feet. He was full of life and wanted to try the things that made him feel adventurous. Again, wonderful memories to have, but at the same time, these wonderful memories make you painstakingly aware of their absence, especially when you see others taking part in the same types of activities just like he would have if he were here on this earth.
Thinking back on these two simple activities, Aaron was dedicated to his cause and what he wanted to do….He would hang in there until he got it. He wasn’t like that with everything, but with the things he truly loved doing…he would give it his all until he learned how to do it. It was, in these times, that I would see the most focused Aaron that I had ever seen in my life.
Thinking back to my dream in the beginning of the post, I think of despair and darkness. I remember the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness in being surrounded by a raging sea of large waves of trouble. I think of that despair and wonder how?? In the midst of my despair, a friend has helped me to see that yes, blue might indicate sadness…as in the despair in my dream and the present circumstances in dealing with the death of my son…But it also might represent the feeling of “Blue skies smiling on me”. I had to really reach to think that way, because right now, it’s hard to think about the good times I had with Aaron when I’ve mostly focused on his death. But as I think about the good times with him, those winds and waves from the raging sea, seam to calm just a little.
But the raging sea has also made me think about all of the turbulent emotions you experience inside when you lose your child. Those emotions are raging just like the waves in my dream…and they are also swirling around inside you like the colors on a tie dye T-shirt. And…you never know what emotions are going to swirl together and how you will react at any particular moment. However, focusing on the good memories and honoring my son has brought some calm to those emotions… sometimes the calm lasts for only a few minutes, but sometimes it last for a few hours. I’m thankful for those moments when the seas of trouble calm and the emotions calm for if for only a few minutes.
God’s word promises me that, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107: 29 NKJV
He is stilling the storm, if only for a short time and the seas are hushed, if only for a short time. Healing in the storm with blue skies during episodes of tie dyed emotions…healing will come in short bursts and will happen over time with His promise. Thank you, Jesus, for the blue skies that bring healing…even in the storm and the tie dyed emotions!