I used to be terrified of the apocalypse. Terrified that Jesus would come at any moment and rapture me up to heaven. Even if I was naked or eating a cupcake. Then, I was afraid of demons and spiritual warfare. I would stay awake all night, watching the blackness swirl around my tightly closed eyes and pray for everyone I knew. In order to sleep, I had to imagine that the air conditioner was the prowl of a protective lion, watching over my home, my siblings and my parents. I could only sleep when the air switched on.
Then, I got older. Wore a bra. Went to school and donned a whole new set of fears–Who would I eat lunch with? Would I get an A on the test? Would anyone ask me to homecoming? They were benign and boring, really. And so were my fears in college–Would I get an A? Would I make finals at the debate tournament? Could I really wear a beret to class? And would my self-perm, white girl ‘fro ever grow out?
And then a series of worst things happened. In the span of three years, my sister was abused by a family member. He didn’t go to jail. My father in law passed away. Two of my sisters were in a devastating car accident and one had to learn to walk again, convalescing in my home for five months before she could go back home.
The day we came home from returning her to my parents house, I looked at the walker in the corner of my living room and threw up.
The fear was back.
Most days it’s gone. Most days I’m fine. But it often returns when I’m bucking my daughter in the car. Or I read a study about the genetics of cancer. I often see the fear returned when my cautious little daughter timidly steps on rocky terrain or tells me to “be careful!” when I open the oven.
And I’m afraid right now. Because while still lingering in the shadow of a miscarriage, I’m 10 weeks pregnant.
And then, we are all afraid aren’t we? We’re afraid of too many guns, or a lack of guns. Of inadequate mental heath care, of leaving our children at school. Of being sad. Of not being sad enough. Of mourning, of not mourning the right thing. Of telling our kids about what happened or not telling them. Of too much, of too little, of all things–we are in this moment afraid.
My fear grips me at night, when I lay down and the nausea subsides and I feel normal again and I think. What if my child is already gone? What if there is no heartbeat? Or there is, and then later, there isn’t?
I don’t let it go much farther than that. Here in this moment, I have a child inside me. Here in this moment, I am blessed. I know enough that life is precarious enough that we will all fall soon enough. The apocalypse will come. The demons old and new will be there.
But in this moment, there is joy. And that joy keeps the darkness away.
I wish that for everyone.