Pre-dawn hours when sleep is still hovering, I find myself stirred awake by early morning visitors.
Often times, in the wee small hours of the morning I feel the gentle tug of my covers and the ever so slight pressure of weight on my mattress. I turn, open my sleep laden eyes, and find a sleepy four or five year old grandchild doing their best to hoist themselves into my slightly too tall bed to cuddle until fully awake.
I adore these early morning visits. I cherish these precious years, that I know will all too soon slip away. There is nothing more priceless than this time, drifting back to sleep and snuggling with my grandchildren. I realize these days are numbered. These days when Harper and Harris clamor into my bed, weave their gangly little legs through mine, wrap my arms around their own bodies and gradually slip back to sleep if only for a few stolen minutes more before the exuberance for the day sets in.
I welcome and savor every second of the companionship these sweet early morning visitors bring me.
My memory holds dear the early morning hours of my last few years with Steve. I would wake earlier than him, feeling the day’s long to-do list calling me from a peaceful night’s sleep. I would awaken abruptly, feeling the need to begin scratching items off my constant and ever growing list of daily responsibilities. Attempting to gently slip out of bed, it never failed that Steve would rouse from sleep, reach out for my hand, ask me, or maybe, to be perfectly honest, plead with me to stay in bed for just a little longer. Wanting to please Steve, I would crawl back under the covers, place my head on his chest and wrap my arm across his warm firm torso. I am still able to recall the sound of his strong, steady heart beating against my ear. I can close my eyes, even now, and feel the rise and fall of his chest, as he would fall back to sleep. I can still feel his cool hand, as I would gently weave his fingers into mine. I remember thinking…this time is rare, special, and all too soon the intimacy of these early morning visits will be a memory.
I, no we, both knew that the last four plus years of Steve’s life were a gift and we did our best to cherish these sweetest of moments. I wish I could tell you now that I have no regrets about lingering in bed with Steve in those early morning hours, but the truth be told, Steve sensed my anxiousness to get my day started. Unable to fall back asleep while wrapped in Steve’s arms, he could detect my restlessness. My list was calling me and my squirming to get the day underway could be felt beneath his desire to simply be together, quiet and still. He would finally relent, tell me to go, to start my day. I would slip from his tender grasp and anxiously set out to begin scratching things off my to-do list.
Why, oh why did I not relish the magnitude of those sweetest of moments with my precious husband? What was so pressing on that list of things I had to accomplish that I couldn’t have set them aside for a few early morning hours of this short time I had left with Steve?
I regret jumping from bed, feeling the need to grasp the handles that would enable me to circumnavigate through the demands of life once Steve was gone. Why did I not stop to pay homage to these irreplaceable days together? Why did I not understand that life’s details would wait because these early morning times could never be revisited? If only I could have a do-over, then surely I would make the most of our early morning visits.
I’m hesitant to share my next experiences with you lest you think I’m kooky, but, oh well, here goes.
A handful of times since Steve’s death, I have experienced the strangest sensation. It is in the early morning hours, those hours when sleep is still hanging heavy, with eyes closed, I feel a sag, a weight on the edge of my mattress. It is a feeling I remember as a small child when my mother would gently wake me for school in the mornings. She would quietly sit on the side of my bed and rub my back, telling me it was time to get up for school. I knew, without opening my eyes, that her presence was in my room. I sensed that she was sitting beside me on my bed. Since Steve’s death, there have been days I have felt this same weight, this slight dip of my mattress.
It is on those rare mornings, I have sensed, through a veil of half sleep, half consciousness, the sensation of someone sitting on my bed. I feel that sinking of my mattress and I am always too quick to open my eyes, for the moment I do, I realize I’m alone. I sit up to look around my bed, thinking maybe it’s my dog, Lucy, but there is never a soul in sight. Perhaps, if I had kept my eyes closed just a bit longer, I could have my answer to this mysterious sinking feeling.
I can’t tell you who this early visitor might be, but I would like to imagine it is Steve coming to pay a brief early morning visit, to simply sit by my side so that I might linger with him a little while longer.
The verse of an old song keeps running through my mind as I write these words.
“Come and sit by my side if you love me,
do not hasten to bid me adieu,
but remember the Red River Valley,
and the one that has loved you so true.”
For what it’s worth,
Hebrews 13 :2 “Do not forget to show hospitality; for thereby some have entertained angels without knowing it.”