There are things that grieving people experience that others can never imagine. Secondary losses, for example, remind you of the primary loss every day. I have asthma. It's not much of a problem until allergy season comes around. I have episodes where I wake up from a deep sleep, standing beside my bed, unable to breath. Breathing has become a major addiction in my life, so you can imagine the panic I feel when I can't. Over the years I’ve learned to regulate the allergies so they don’t lead to an attack, but at times they get out of control. For a few brief moments I’m terrified. After one of those episodes going back to sleep can be even more foreboding.
During our twenty five years of marriage, Tammy had learned to calm me and lovingly coach me to my inhaler. But the night she died, as the kids and I were getting ready for bed, a terrible thought made me afraid to go to sleep. What if I had an asthma attack? Tammy wouldn’t be there to help, and the kids might be worried. So I coached them in what to do. Thankfully, for the last eight months I haven’t had a single event.
Sunday night, after an exhausting day, I went to bed. Sleep came fast, even though it’s the season when everything blooms in Mobile. At one thirty in the morning I had an attack. I turned on the bathroom light. I panicked, wheezing and gasping for breath. My sense of aloneness gripped me in a fear like I have never before experienced. I was searching for my medicine when I felt a gentle hand on my back, rubbing in the calmest and most comforting way. My twenty-one-year-old son Joshua was standing there. "Dad, it’s going to be OK" He kept repeating those comforting words.
When my pulse settled down and my breathing smoothed out, I sat on my bed and began to weep. He held me. I was overwhelmed with a darkness that I cannot describe. Then I realized that God sent Joshua to my aid. He normally sleeps upstairs, but tonight he was on call for work and came home just in time to hear me fumbling around. I am grateful once again for God's provision for my every fear. Last Sunday night reminds me that God is sovereign and nothing can separate me from His love and provision.
I am also very proud of a brave and tenderhearted son named Joshua. His name even comforted me that night. Joshua in Hebrew means “God is our salvation.” Jesus’ name derives from it. Jesus truly is my salvation.