For the past week or so I've been preoccupied with the concept of fear. Why isn't a question I'd like to answer right now . . . or maybe ever. Let's just take it as a given that I've been thinking about fear quite a lot lately. I don't think I've ever really considered myself to be a fearful person. Oh, sure, there is the occasional physical reaction when I see a snake, but that doesn't really count. What I'm talking about is true fear - the kind that wakes you in the middle of the night. The kind of fear that haunts you in your dreams and leaves you struggling to wake up. I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately and how, if allowed to grow, fear can overcome your life. It can suck the life out of your days and paralyze you.
I'm sure that we all have things that we are afraid of. At some point in our lives we all have been afraid of the dark, afraid of being alone, afraid of failure. These are fears that can be overcome. Once you recognize your fear and can face the cause, common sense can explain away the shadows. I can remember a time when being alone in my house at night was enough to make me lock all the doors and listen for any small sound that might indicate all was not right in the night. Now, I can sit here on cool fall evenings, alone in my home with the windows open, without worrying about what's "out there." When Erin was very small, for some reason she convinced herself that there were bears in our yard at night. Every night before going to bed we would have to reassure her that Daddy Paul had killed all the bears that day. That simple assurance that a grown up was in control of the night and could banish those things you were afraid of was all she needed to feel secure in her world. If only there was someone to assure us in a way that could banish adult fears.
So what kinds of things am I afraid of? I'm afraid of being alone. I've just had a birthday. As I grow older I think more and more of what my future might bring. Let's face it. The women in my family live incredibly long lives! There is a very distinct possibility that I will live out the last years of my life without John. The thought of being without him makes me truly afraid. I know that as long as I have family I will never be truly alone, but being without the other half of myself is truly frightening. I have now lived with him more years than I have lived without him. We function as a team - a single entity sometimes. I like it like that.
Erin's future is more and more surely developing far away from us. Somehow being without her does make me feel alone, but not especially lonely. When I am lonely for her all I have to do is talk to her and everything is better. I think that God structured the parent / child relationship with a type of buffer that kicks in as the child becomes an adult. That separation is a natural one. It is a parting that one spends the better part of parenthood preparing for. Letting her go has not been easy and there are still times when there is a very empty space in my home where Erin's presence used to be. It wasn't until just recently that I noticed that my sister, my mother, and I have quit referring to the blue bedroom at my mother's house as "Sonya's room." Strange, huh? I haven't lived in that room for twenty-four years but I have always still thought of it as my room. I think I will always think of the room upstairs here as Erin's room - even when I paint over the fuchsia, aqua, and orange striped walls.
The fear that I've been obsessed with lately is one that will either go away on its own or I will have to face it. Having it go away on its own is my preferred method of getting rid of it, but I'll face it if I have to. Until that time comes I'm sure I'll spend my time worrying it over and over in my mind trying to find a way around it. Being afraid makes me feel vulnerable. I hate that feeling. It makes me angry. Maybe that's the best way to overcome this particular fear. Get angry. Get very angry. Sounds like a plan to me.