Ben had a PTA program at his school last evening. Another “first” for us to get through without Mark. It was a mini-musical about “Stone Soup”, and even though he thought it was “babyish,” his mom and grandma thought it was wonderful. There’s just something about a large group of children singing on key 🙂 As I was video-ing portions of it, I had to stop to remember that this was something Mark was seeing first-hand from his vantage point, in the past whenever he’d be out of town, I would video it for him to watch whenever he returned. Ben sang out like an angel through most of it, and told me later that he “was the best singer” on his side of the room.
Mark loved to sing. He would sing at the drop of a hat. He would sing without abandon, loudly and enthusiastically. He sang like he lived life, without any hesitation, reservations, or regret. Some of my earliest memories of our dating days revolve around his singing loudly to whatever classic rock song was playing while we were driving somewhere. In our B.C. (before children) days, there would be plenty of opportunity to listen to either the radio or cassettes or cds while travelling to either Kansas or Kentucky to visit family. He would always pretend he had a microphone in one hand, while driving with the other. At specific times during the song, he’d take the invisible mic and stick it under my nose, while I was minding my own business in the passenger seat. “Inside the box” personality that I have, more often than not I would just shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and point ‘the mic’ back at his face. How he longed for me to just burst into song, right along with him! Looking back, I wish I had left my self-consciousness at the curb more often, and just rocked along with him. He relished the times that I did.
He was the perfect complement to my “way-A” type personality. He urged me to take chances. I was not (am not) a risk taker. But in him, I saw the most perfect combination of a responsible, hard-working adult that didn’t take himself too seriously. He was always up for fun and trying new things. I’d like to think he broadened my horizons, although he never thought I stepped outside the box often enough.
At bedtime last night, I was worn out. So much so that we all were in bed shortly after 9pm. I snuggled Andrew for a short while before kissing him and closing his bedroom door. Just as I was drifting off to a much-needed full night of sleep, I felt him at my bedside. Crying, he told me, “Mom, I’m really missing Dad.” I pulled him into the bed beside me, cradling him in my arms. “I really miss being able to talk to him,” he said. Man, can I ever identify with that statement. I told him that’s the thing I miss most about him, too. Because I could talk to Mark about anything. Then I told A.J. that he could still talk to his daddy, and if he listened really closely, that his daddy would talk back to him. I think in the stillness of the night, before sleep comes, is the best time to talk to both God and his daddy.
He asked me to come back to his bed and lay with him. Off we went. As I rubbed his back and dried his tears, I felt both helpless and helpful. Helpless that I could not bring his daddy back, but helpful in the sense that I could be there for him, a physical, tangible presence that could express a deep love. I ended up falling asleep with him for awhile, then finally made it back to my bed at some point during the night. So much for a good night’s sleep…..eh, I’ve decided that sleep is overrated.
As I drove his truck home this morning after taking the boys to school, I felt overwhelmed again to be without him. Then a still, not-so-small voice tells me, “I am with you. I am with you. I am with you!” And I am reminded, for the millionth or so time that God has not let go of my hand. So, I turn up the radio, listening to the contemporary Christian station, and sing without abandon into an invisible microphone,