My mom and dad are getting divorced and my dad is leaving us, it makes me so sad, and my brother is going away for college, too, so I won’t have him anymore starting soon.
Then my doctor told me I have a problem with my heart valve and I’m doing all sorts of tests for it. They say not to worry because it’s only a small thing, but I am so scared about everything.
SCARED IN NORTH CAROLINA
After my father’s suicide, I was scared. Very scared. My mother, my sister, and I were all terrified. I can’t even tell you why, exactly.
And it was worse at night. We slept in the same bedroom for many years. I slept on the floor, at the foot of Mama’s bed.
Before bedtime, I’d push a dresser in front of her bedroom doorknob.
Irrational, I know.
But that’s fear. It makes you do strange things. And after someone dies—or when parents divorce, or when you get sick, or when someone hurts you—you get bucketfuls of fear.
One night, my mother heard a crash downstairs. I grabbed a baseball bat—the same slugger I won regional championships with.
I walked the dark house barefoot. I trembled so that I could hardly hold the bat. My heart beat hard.
I saw glowing eyes in the kitchen. Our outdoor cat had gotten trapped indoors. She jumped onto the refrigerator and knocked something over.
I almost vomited. I dropped the bat. I collapsed on the floor and cried until my ears rang.
So, I’m the wrong fella to ask about how to not be afraid. I can’t tell you how because I don’t know.
But I can tell you that I sort of understand what you feel.
I know what it means to stare at the ceiling, wondering where your loved ones have gone. And I know what it means to be the only kid in eighth grade who worries so hard he develops an ulcer.
I know what it means to be anxious and exhausted. And I know what it means to carry a Louisville Slugger in the dark.
The ugly truth is, you cannot change what’s happening. You can’t undo what your mother and daddy have done. You can’t cure heart valves, ulcers, headaches, nor hurt.
But there is, however, something I’ve found that makes fear and worry feel almost bearable.
Someone else. Another soul who is brave enough to feel afraid with you. It only takes one.
And if you find someone willing to do this, you will only feel half your fear. Which is better than feeling it all at once.
Then one day, when you get through this, you’ll remember writing me, and you’ll realize what I am still learning:
That even though you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you shouldn’t fear any evil because you aren’t alone. Thy rod and thy staff, and thy Louisville Slugger will comfort you.
Listen to me. No matter what happens, everything will be alright, darling.
That’s not an opinion.