Off and on all night I felt kitty Taz curled in the V behind my knees, knew his nest formed by the pull of fleece throw into a wrap around his back.  In semi-awake moments, a peek showed his inhale-exhale, his puff and deflate of fur along his sides a steady, purrrred drone of content.  At-who-cares-what-time-it-is-I-am-retired get up, a slowly rolled and don’t wake him watch begins. After 10 minutes or so, one eye reluctantly slits, like he senses the look coming his way, like perhaps the twitchy ears recognized my inhale-exhale content.  A light nose stroke brings both eyes into focus and raises him into a gaped mouth only cats can do it stretch, a slinky uncoil/coil of “why?”  He circles, looks around, circles, and head butts my patient hand for the ear tuck ‘good morning’ he expects and gets.  Back to the nest in a sleek, furry roll and a challenging “your move papa”, eyes closing harrumph.  Safe.

Really, I recognize the similarity to my nights and mornings.  At whatever-time-it-doesn’t-matter go to bed, I curl into the sheets, tug up the comforter and fleece throws, and nest into the dark.  On and off all night Taz in semi-awake moments probably peeks to reassure my presence.  Events over recent times often trouble my sleep with nightmares, with visions that generate the cold sweat, the trembles that shake the heart, the wake myself up yell of “what in the world!”  Every event brings the same peek, the wide-eyed glance at the stick-on wall art that glows just enough in moonlight, pale light, night light reminder.  “Pray about everything, Worry about nothing.”  Difficulty certainly lies in turning all over to God, yes all and be in His graceful hands and letting His love soothe the moment into solace.  A recurring specter of the mid-night hours challenges the fold hands, God’s got it effort.

In the narrow upstairs hall, a dark clad figure, head bowed and face hidden by a wide brimmed, tilted down fedora-ish hat, leans against the wall.  A pulled-up foot braces the posture, creates the Dick Tracy spy on an unsuspecting suspect.  A hand rises, tilts up the brim and reveals piercing, coal ember eyes, eyes searching, eyes looking, lurking…  And I usually awake knowing a yell called me away from the fear searing safe.  I know this fellow, sure all do in some way or another.  We’ve met him in farewell, a God called home loved one’s time, in illness times, in the lonely times.  I brushed his hand at mom’s insistence when I first encountered him, in the way young, 1950’s goodbye to a beloved Uncle Emile.  Many times, with a villainous touch, he’s been about, like in all our lives.  A mis-administered morphine drip, a mis-administered IV, embolism, stroke – each time he was chased by a ‘yell’, by God’s voiced “Not Yet!”  The most recent meeting brought not only the chase, but the sense of the unfathomable Peace of God when fear, when life’s trepidations get honestly and fully placed in His hands, placed at the foot of His Son’s cross.  And my mind circles and circles again, knows the unexpected brush of hand as I curl back into the nest.

“Your move Father.”

-Dave Smith 4/29/18