Monday, April 26, 2010

NightandIloveyou (by Billy Coffey)


A recent, and very early, Friday morning:

I hear it through a thick blanket of sleep, soft at first then clearer and stronger. Not the sort of noise one fears at night. Not a crack or a thump or a ring from the telephone. But the sort of noise that makes you wonder where it’s coming from and what in the world it means.

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

I grab the remote control and point it in the general direction of the television, thinking that I had dozed off in the middle of whatever I had been watching three hours earlier. I wave it blindly, pushing the ON/OFF button and then smacking the whole thing against my hand because the batteries must be dead. And then I realize that the television isn’t on. The noise, however, still is:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

My head raises, using what can only be described as the human equivalent to sonar to identify the source.

It’s coming from my son’s bedroom.

I pull back the blankets, schlep into the hallway, and stand at his door. The soft red light from his Lightning McQueen lamp illuminates him in his bed. He is staring at the ceiling with his arms raised and his fingers doing some sort of magical dance.

“Hey,” I say.

He jerks and spins and stares at me with a look of terror. He has been worried of monsters under his bed lately, and ghosts in his closet, and the bad guy from Toy Story. I just may be all three.

“Just me,” I promise.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I am.”

“No, you’re singing.”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Let’s get some sleep, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”

“Nightandloveyoutoo.”

Back through the hallway, back into bed. I pull the blankets over me and roll to my side. Then, just as I close my eyes:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

Sigh.

Back out of bed, back into the hallway, back to his door.

“Hey, bud,” I say.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Quit singing and go to sleep.”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”

I turn to leave, satisfied that my tone of voice has said what my words did not: don’t wake me again.

“Daddy?” he says, more to the shadow I cast against the wall than to me.

“Yeah, bud?”

“Mommy says to sing when you’re scared.”

Uh-oh.

I move into his room and onto his bed. “Mommy’s a smart girl,” I say. “Maybe the smartest.”

“She says singing makes the shadows brighter.”

“It does,” I tell him. But I don’t think she meant to sing a song from a commercial, and I’m fairly sure she didn’t mean to sing in the middle of the night.”

“Do you get scared, Daddy?”

I mull that one over, biding a few precious seconds by rearranging his covers and pillow. This is a murky question, one best considered in the light of day when I’m alert rather than the dark of night when I’m-not-so-much.

I weigh my options. Tell him that I am scared sometimes, and that may make things much worse. Because if Daddy’s scared, then there must really be some bad things out there. Things worse than monsters. Don’t tell him, though, and I risk much worse. I risk lying to my son.

Because I do get scared. A lot.

“Yeah,” I tell him. “Sometimes.”

“What do you do when you’re scared?”

“Pray, usually.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s even better than singing.”“Does it make the shadows brighter?”

“Better,” I say. “It makes the shadows go away.”

So we pray that the angels will chase away all the monsters. He speaks of the ones in his room, and I think of the ones in this world. Because I know the truth: the ones in the world are real.

We sit alone in the quiet stillness of his room, two people determined to find peace and rest regardless of the shadows that surround us. “It’s not so dark with a father here,” he observes. With me there beside him, rest comes easier. “Nightandloveyou,” he says, and then is asleep.

Back in my own bed, I stop to consider the shadows in our world. I am aware of many more than my son, and thankfully so. I worry about my family sometimes. I worry what will happen next. Tomorrow used to be a word of hope for people. Things would be better then. But I think that too many would rather cling to the present or even the past now. For a lot of us, tomorrow's just too scary.

Then I remember what my son said. The darkness doesn't seem to dark when your father is there. Yes. The shadows lessen. Rest comes easier.

I close my eyes and say my own short prayer.

“Nightandloveyou,” I say to my Father. And I sleep.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

18 comments:

JC said...

This is such a beautiful story. It took me back to when my 3 were little. Now they have little ones of their own. I pray many blessings on your house & of course prayers for an uneventful, 'normal' surgery this morning.

Later today will be a perfect time to sing a little song about being free from achy tonsils or something like that. Of course, it'll be mom an dads song this time.

Angie said...

This is spectacularly beautiful.

So many monsters are real, and I long to protect my littles from them. How good it is to know we have a Father who loves us and cares for us, even when the monsters make their presence known.

Wonderful post!

M.L. Gallagher said...

NightandIloveyou.

Wow - this is beautiful and so gentle and touching and you made me cry.

Thank you!

Sandra Heska King said...

Oooh...sniff. This is a perfect illustration to use when I teach on light tomorrow. I'm gonna read it to my class.

Nightandloveyou, little coffey bean. Rest in your Father's and your daddy's hands today.

P.S. I love those creditreport.com commercials. Catchy jingles. I'll be singing it all day now.

Cherie Hill said...

AMAZING...never imagined my "Monday" could start off with a HUGE laugh and then, a HUGE embrace from my loving Father in Heaven. I will NEVER forget this post...not the "free credit report dot com part-that is DEFINITELY stuck in my head forever! :)...but the NIGHTANDILOVEYOU part. I may not ever end my evening before slumbering another way. Thank you brother, as always, for taking my faith deeper...and drawing me nearer to my awesome God.
With joy,
Cherie

Maureen said...

Tender and loving and grace-filled post.

Duane Scott said...

Loved this. I agree, praying does more than singing. At the same time, I bet if Billy were to sing in the middle of the night it really would chase away any monsters.

Seriously.

katdish said...

Duane Scott -

Yes. And quite possibly the neighborhood strays...

jasonS said...

Well for me, I sometimes like to sing my prayers so I don't know where that falls in the mix. :)

A beautiful story with a wonderful reminder. Thanks Billy.

Graceful said...

I'm with Jason...my 5-year-old and I often sing prayers. In fact, when we first started saying grace before meals (I sheepishly admit, a somewhat recent addition to the dinnertime ritual in our home), Rowan launched into a singing prayer, complete with arms raised skyward and lots of fervor. My husband I were totally puzzed -- we thought he'd somehow gone Pentecostal...until we realized he'd learned a prayer to the tune of the Superman themesong at his preschool. The arms raised (flying) and hands on hips made much more sense then.

Thanks for this post, Billy -- so sweet...so insightful.

bman said...

That was a great story. And very true. As I was up with my dogs last night who were scared of the thunder and lightning... sheesh.

Great post!

lainiegallagher said...

Awesome story!

On a lighter note, it's particularly timely, since I'm showing Monsters, Inc., to my students after TAKS this week... ;)

lainiegallagher said...

(TAKS being the standardized testing system in Texas... I forget not everyone has the privilege of living here!)

Helen said...

Beautiful.

♥ Kathy said...

There are a lot of monsters pretending to be people I think. Great story.

L.T. Elliot said...

I weep when I read your words. I weep and am filled.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Sigh ...

Oh how I love this.

Doug Spurling said...

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
1 john 1:5
nightandlovedthis.