Dateline: January 30, 2014. So, we've had a little problem with the weather here. My one-year-old and I were on the way back from Bible Study Tuesday morning when the snow hit. Black ice had already formed on the roadway, and when my tires spun out and I got stuck on a patch of ice, I knew I had to get off the road. Cate and I began to pray and sing. My heart was pounding as traffic began to build up behind me. Then I saw the memory card for my son's Upward program stuck to my dash: "The end of a matter is better than its beginning. So it's better to be patient than proud". "All right, Cate," I said. "We're gonna take it slow and not get flustered by the people behind us."
A nice man rolled up beside me, gave me some instruction on how to get unstuck, and after 20 minutes of spinning on the ice, I pulled into the next parking lot and shut off the car. That's when the cars which had been behind me on the road all slipped sideways at the same time. Five cars wrecked together in the place where we had been five minutes before, and blocked the road way. (The next morning, the wrecker who came to pull them out also slid on the same patch of ice, and ended up just like the cars he was trying to rescue.)
I bundled up my daughter, told her, "we're getting inside somewhere," and went to knock on the obviously closed office building's door. Luckily, the man who ran the small document processing business opened up the door, turned on the lights, and told us to stay as long as we needed. I don't know if he realized at that point exactly how long that would be.
There were 20 people in and out of the building that night, and eight of us spent the night. The others spent the night in their cars or walked for miles to get to homes. I knew where my daughter was, but my kindergarten son had been on a field trip and I had no idea where he might be. Several calls and an hour later, I found out that his bus had not made it back to his school, and he was still on the road somewhere. Another hour later, I knew that ONE of the two busses had made it to another elementary school to spend the night, and that that bus was not the one he was on. He was still out in the storm somewhere. It took several hours to find out that the bus his class was on had made it to the other elementary school, but I still wasn't certain he was there and had not been able to talk to him.
My husband, who was coming from the opposite direction to try to pick him up, got caught in gridlock and had to spend the night in a college gym. So we were all separated. And even though I assumed we were all safe and warm, I didn't KNOW it. And a mama's heart can't take that.
They closed the road where I was, and it sank in that we weren't going anywhere. I made a bed for us out of lawn chair cushions, and a supper out of Fritos and water.
Cate and I lay down on our cushions, which kept coming apart. She cried for Daddy (so did I) and eventually went to sleep. I had made our bed in a corner by a glass wall, and as the night went on, it got colder and colder. I curled my body around her and watched over her obsessively. All of a sudden, I became fearful of the people who were my sole support a few minutes before. They were wonderful and, if you had to get stuck in a storm, they were probably the best people to be stuck with. But I didn't KNOW them, and I had brought my child in to spend the night with them. What was I thinking? My mama-heart sank.
I stared at the ceiling and thought about my son. Worried if he was warm, was fed, was safe. I knew that he was out in the world somewhere, and I hoped that he wasn't confused or scared. Tears started down my face, dripped into my ears, as I prayed a prayer that ran through every word I had and devolved into an empty echo: my son, my son, my son, over and over. My mama-heart could not handle it.
Then I began to pray for others. There are mama-hearts out there who sleep on floors every night. There are mama-hearts that break because they can't keep their children warm at all. There are mama-hearts that don't even have snack machine suppers for their children, hearts that ache as much as their children's empty stomachs. There are mama-hearts out there with no clue where their children are.
And there is a Father-heart, who lost His son somewhere out there in a cold world. A Father-heart who lost sight of His son because He could not look at what the son had become. A Father-heart that bled and cried like mine. I cannot fathom the amount of space and darkness that made up the mammoth castle of His pain, but during the snow storm I crawled into one small corner of the pain-closet in the front hallway and lived there for a while.
We got home the next afternoon, after many hours of figuring out how to entertain a one-year-old in a document processing company, and figuring out how to make diapers out of office supplies (give me a couple of binder clips and a scarf and I will fix your baby up). Later that afternoon, after many phone calls and lots of logistics, my husband pulled up in the driveway with my son. I have not let him get more than five feet from me since.
My mama-heart healed the moment I saw my son. But I can remember what I learned in the dark of that night: There is nothing as deep and complex as the love and pain of a mama-heart. But there is also a Father-heart out there looking for your heart. A Father who loves you, and worries about you, about whether you're safe and warm and fed.There is a Father waiting on you to get home. He is calling and He is waiting. Sometimes He cries out in the dark and He is sure that you can hear Him. And He rejoices when you work through all the logistics and obstacles and just come home.
Visit Dana's blog at http://valleydale7.blogspot.com/2014/01/lessons-from-snowpocalypse.html