It was the same every night. About thirty minutes after closing the door to their bedroom, about thirty minutes after exhaling from folding up another day, I would hear his voice. “Jack? Jack?” It was low and quick, purposeful with a hint of sneaky, as he called out to his brother who slept just a few feet away. Jack always found his sleep first, leaving Webb alone to find his fingers in the dark for making shadows on the wall. When silence, yet again, answered his call for Jack, he would whisper, “Night, night, Jack,” this time his voice slow and mellow with a hint of disappointment.
Next began his singing. The words to Webb’s sleepy songs slid right under his door to fill a tired mama’s soul with the last drop of the day’s manna. Sometimes I would close my eyes as the lyrics to “The Wheels on the Bus” and the “ABCs” tumbled down the hall to meet me on the living room couch. But when he lifted his voice to sing, “Jesus Loves Me,” I could not help but also lift my palms to receive the day’s last gift. Yes, it was a gift for me to hold this simple blessing as he held this simple tune. For a mother with the responsibility of three little ones to nurture and to grow, and for a little boy with so much yet to discover and so much still to learn, his words breathed water on any flame of fear. For when Webb sang this song, a song quite common but quite full of communion, he spoke a great truth. God loved us. To Him we belonged. This we knew.
I miss my nightly serenades. In fact, I ache for them. Sometimes the silence at night fills the house with an absence so loud that I wonder if the lack of a son’s song shows the lack of a God’s love. Where I used to sit with hands open, I now want to throw hands up, surrendering to the belief that manna from above stopped dripping when melody from Webb’s room stopped singing. And all too often, I sit and soak in the silence, and the silence is all that I hear.
I don’t know how God will drip song back into my hands. I wonder if His manna will ever taste as sweet without my son here to spoon it into my soul. The fear that I will remain swimming in silence is almost strong enough to stop my palms from opening. But these hands, they were created to look up. Grief and loss try to close them shut and throw them up in surrender, but it is only when left open that I am able to hear the sweet truth in my son’s simple tune. The tune he once sang in our earthly home he now sings among a heavenly host, with no hint of disappointment and in no trace of darkness. “Mama, God loves us. To Him we belong. This we know.” Webb’s voice drowns out the silence. God’s truth sings to my soul, and these hands simply cannot hold all of the manna, as it rains down from above.