When I was 5, my mother tried to kill herself. She tucked me into her bed, close beside her in the warmth of a Vegas night. I laid with her while the fan turned above me, while the breeze blew hot and scented with sand over me.
And I fell asleep. Against her. To her heartbeat and to her scent.
Sometime after I fell asleep she got up, went into the bathroom, and took every pill in the house. She collapsed there on the cold tile.
I know she didn't intend for me to wake up and see her. But I did.
She was convulsing. Her eyes were rolled back. She was utterly terrifying.
But she was still my mama. So I sat and held her hand and cried.
I closed my eyes with the words of the Hail Mary on my lips. And I felt rising up in me in that one moment- a claiming. A claiming of myself, deeper than anything I could verbalize. Deeper than oceans and sand and scent and hurt. Deeper than the moment I was living in- the horror I was witnessing.
I felt the brush of wings against my face. I felt enveloped. I felt peace.
I ran to the phone and called my father. Soon red and blue painted the space I sat in, painted my mothers now still face with color and light.
I was picked up, carried. But I looked back to see her there, so small and still on the tile. I saw the paramedics slap her, shake her. And I wished for her to live.
She did live. By a miracle, she did. I'd like to say that the rest of her life was testament to how she was saved by mercy, but it wasn't.
It wasn't she who was saved that night. It was me.
It was in those moments, a that small age, that the longing for Christ overwhelmed me. When the reaching beyond myself into a greater something was all I could hope for. When help was not to be found, when the silence was too great and the horror to deep I called out.
How did I know? How did I believe that I could be rescued?
I still don't have the answers.
But I was.
And when I have trouble believing I go back there. When I struggle, I dream of that night. The heat. The smell of bile and the sound of her body hitting the floor.
I go back to the horror. Because in the moment I was lifted beyond myself. I was claimed by God, and held above what was happening to me into what I was. A creature of God. Loved by him. Graced with mercy.
Lily is 5. I can't think about her in these terms, because I would do anything to prevent her pain or anguish. But I do wish for her to feel, at some point in her life, this tidal wave of grace. This uplifting of soul into something bigger than herself, and wider that her world has ever been. I wish for her to know the wonder of a God who rescues from the fire, and who delivers her safe from any harm.
I wish for her to be claimed as His. To know His great hand as she knows her own. To follow the planes of her existence and her spirit as He calls her to do.
I wouldn't trade my circumstance. I wouldn't give it away, or wish it away. I wouldn't want to not remember that night because without the horror I would not know the grace.
My mother and her sickness led me to Him. She gave me a great gift- the ability to reach beyond myself for help and for strength.
So until always, I will remember the sand scented air, the heat, and falling asleep to her heart. And I will remember the terror and the horror...and the love and gentleness I was shown.