Silent Night

They arrived at the vacant home together one evening to sign papers. It was just him. Just her. They'd changed. She’d cut her hair. He’d lost weight. They almost didn’t recognize each other. 

Their baby died. The child was beautiful. Large head, blue eyes, ribbons in her hair.

It was a few days before Christmas when it happened. Her family was in town. The house was alive with people.

Her husband placed their almost one-year-old beside him in bed for a nap. He didn’t mean to fall into a deep sleep. But he did. It was the worst mistake of his life. 

They found the child wedged between the wall and the bed.

The funeral was a blur. The following days were hell on earth. She and her husband hollered at one another. She placed blame. He said hurtful things.

Sometimes, good people act ugly.

They separated. He moved into his brother’s. She moved back to Virginia. They put their house up for sale.

The house sat vacant for a year, and they didn’t speak for that long. No calls, no emails. Silence.

Until a realtor called to say they’d received an offer.

They arrived at the vacant home together one evening to sign papers. It was just him. Just her. They’d changed. She’d cut her hair. He’d lost weight. They almost didn’t recognize each other.

A body can change a lot in a year.

They embraced. They kissed. They apologized. They talked about their late child.

They remembered.

They cried. They laid together on the living-room floor and spent the night in one another’s arms. No words. Just quiet.

The next morning, they woke with stiff backs and crusty eyes. Her face was serious.

“What is it?” he said.

Her first words were: “I had this dream.”

She spoke of a girl in her dream, with blonde hair, blue eyes, running through an open field, chasing other children. The little girl ran with arms outstretched, smiling, laughing.

The child in the dream laughed, then collapsed to lie down. She stared at a sky above her and sang in a childlike hum.

And that was it. It was a brief dream, but it was vivid.

Her husband didn’t make a sound. His face went white, he breathed heavy, like he was having trouble catching his breath.

“What is it?” she said. “You look terrified.”

“I had the same dream,” he answered.

And they pressed their foreheads together and cried themselves dry.

Listen. I don’t know why people suffer. And I don’t know why bad things happen, and I’m betting you don’t either.

Even so, there is something you know just as well as I do. You know it even though you can’t see it. And even though it is invisible, it’s there, in the air.

And I believe in it.

I believe it’s the same thing that makes dreams. The same thing that makes a grieving girl and a broken boy move back into their old house, and try it all over again.

It is what made the couple pregnant for a second time. And it lives inside their new child—who will turn seven this Christmas season. I believe it is where all beautiful souls go when they leave us.

I believe it is what will cause the sun to make its climb above the trees tomorrow. I believe it will save this world.

I really do.

20 comments

  1. Connie - December 3, 2017 1:50 pm

    I believe it too. I love the depth of your feelings and the fact that you share them with us all.

    Reply
  2. Kathy Daum - December 3, 2017 1:52 pm

    I believe, also, it is what can save the world. And all of us.

    Reply
  3. carol0goodson - December 3, 2017 1:53 pm

    Sean! You made me cry! Thanks for these beautiful words, and the beautiful thought behind them.

    Reply
  4. Nina Thompson - December 3, 2017 1:54 pm

    I believe too….if I didn’t I couldn’t make it through each day.

    Reply
  5. bewell40 - December 3, 2017 1:54 pm

    Me too.

    Reply
  6. Sue Cronkite - December 3, 2017 2:42 pm

    I can feel the presence in me and around me. I can feel the love, the goodness.

    Reply
  7. Brenda Freeman - December 3, 2017 3:00 pm

    What an amazing writer you are, Sean of the South. You put into words what many of us feel but can’t find the words to say. I love your posts.

    Reply
  8. Sharon Hand - December 3, 2017 3:10 pm

    That, my friend, is not an “it”. THAT is The Holy Spirit.

    Reply
    • Cindy - December 3, 2017 6:41 pm

      Yes, it is! God is with us!

      Reply
  9. Jody - December 3, 2017 3:16 pm

    Praise His holy name. Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  10. Patricia Byers - December 3, 2017 3:22 pm

    ..he died in 1977. i loved him beyond words. he often came to me in dreams. just before Christmas in 1996, he came in dream again. he was a carpenter, a builder. he was working inside a small trailer with another man i didn’t know, but i recognized him, but he was young. he wore his white t-shirt again, with the sleeves rolled up that held his package of cigarettes. dreams don’t always make sense. he was installing a wood ceiling in this tiny house trailer. there was no explanation for this odd chore. i talked with the other man, spoken with words that did not move the mouth, you only heard them in your head. i told the other man, this is my dad, but he is dead.
    my dad turned to me from his work, and with words not uttered from his mouth, simply just given to me to hear, ” I am not dead, I did not die, I will live forever”, and in my JOY, the dream ended.
    I was given a gift. A sign. One of many of them.
    that was my Christmas gift of 1996.
    i believe in the miracle of dreams. we only need to pay attention.

    Reply
    • Carlin Brooks - December 4, 2017 2:51 am

      Sean, you are such a blessing! Please keep it up.

      Reply
  11. Liz - December 3, 2017 4:14 pm

    I do too. Thanks for this beautiful essay.

    Reply
  12. Faye Bowers - December 3, 2017 5:52 pm

    The Love of Jesus can conquer anything. God bless you

    Reply
  13. Karen Templet Irby - December 3, 2017 9:27 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Once again you have told us a heartbreaking, sweet, triumphant story right out of a precious family’s life experience. Life is tough sometimes, but it is also a thing of great joy. God bless this family, and you, too, for bringing their story to us! Now somebody pass the Kleenex…

    Reply
  14. Kathy Dunn - December 3, 2017 9:43 pm

    In 1977 I was working the evening shift at our local hospital when a father walked in carrying a limp child and his wife walking behind him. Same same story you just posted but this time it was a grandmother who fell asleep and woke up to that nightmare. From that day on I have been an advocate of sharing with every new mom and dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and kids who babysit ….Do Not Ever lay down in the same bed with a infant/child. I still can close my eyes and see that father and mother hoping and praying the ER staff could save their precious child, but it was too late. I still pray for that grandmother and those parents.

    Reply
  15. Jenny Young - December 4, 2017 2:36 am

    Sometimes it is so super hard to believe.

    Reply
  16. Cathy Johnson - December 4, 2017 2:51 am

    Absolutely beautiful

    Reply
  17. Patricia Gibson - December 4, 2017 7:34 pm

    Me too, Sean!

    Reply
  18. Lucretia - December 6, 2017 1:45 pm

    I believe it! Thank you, Sean.

    Reply

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