Friday, October 14, 2005

10/14/05 Night Classes

My mother-in-law sent me an email today, stating that the contents made her think of me and things that I have shared with her about waking up in the middle of the night.

The originator of this piece is from , a site for those dealing with cancer whose motto is "Fighting cancer with hope and humor". My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, recovering from her second surgery.

It is entitled "God's Night Classes".

"Without a doubt, the nights were the worst. During the daytime, family and friends visited and chatted. Others called to talk on the phone. My mother rented movies and we watched them together. My teenage sons went through the typical trials and tribulations of that phase of life, and its inherent daily drama kept my thoughts occupied. Visits to the oncology clinic or the radiation therapy center at the hospital provided opportunities to visit with other patients and cheerful nurses and technicians.

And the daylight somehow made everything okay. It was easier to feel upbeat in the daytime, and it was easier to believe I would get well. I didn’t feel so alone when the sun was up.

But when night fell, everything changed. The nightmares of childhood were nothing compared to the horrors of those nights. With everyone in our household sound asleep and not a sound to be heard anywhere, I would bolt upright in my bed, my heart pounding. I trembled all over, pulled the blankets tighter around me and lay there shivering and sobbing until the dim light of morning glowed through the curtains.

Then I heard someone refer to such times as “God’s Night Classes.” He said that God often awakens us in the middle of the night during difficult times for the simple reason that it is quiet then and there is nothing to distract us from communicating with Him. With all around us dark and silent, we can talk to Him and we can listen to what He has to tell us.

I began to look at those nightly wake-up calls as God’s Night Classes. When I began to shake all over and the tears came, I begged Him to pull me close, to comfort me and calm my fears. I told Him where it hurt and what I was afraid of.

And, yes, I prayed for a cure. But mostly I just prayed for courage to get through one more treatment, one more surgery, one more day of living with cancer.

After a few of these “classes,” the trembling and the tears stopped. If I awoke during the night, I said, “Hello, God. I’m here.”Invariably He said, “So am I.

Dear God, help me to remember that You are always there, not just in the daylight hours, but also in the dark of night. When I feel frightened and alone, pull me close and comfort me. Whisper to me that You are there. Help me to rest, knowing I am safe in Your arms and that you are watching over me through all the days and nights of my life. Amen."

While I do not have cancer, I believe I am a student in God's night classes. I can relate to the author's description of the transition from the busy work of the day to the still of the night. The fears creep towards you as the light of day retreats.

I can recall many a night falling asleep with tears streaming down my face, trying hard to be quiet and not wake my husband. Darkness brings with it a stark reminder that Jason is out there in that pitch black world, and that I have no control over where and how. The darkness doesn't let me forget the deep void in my life that is present because Jason is not a part of our everyday lives.

God has woke me up many times in the middle of the night. Sometimes He would tell me things that would make me understand something I had been puzzled about, or something that had been bothering me. "Ah", I would think to myself, "So that's why it caused me to feel that way." There would be times then, when a solution would present itself.

The night classes my mother-in-law is thinking about are primarily the times when I wake from a deep sleep with an idea about something. Most of my ideas about my work in the cause have come at night, and often during the night classes. When this happens, I am asked to pull an "all-nighter" so that the idea presented can come to fruition.

One night class that I recall vividly stemmed from the time that a group of women came together and donated $500 to Project Jason. I had been wondering (during the day) if there was something specific we should do with that money, or if we should just use it for general expenses, such as paying for more Personal ID Kits.

In class, I was told that the money was to be given back to the community, as many organizations do have one or more programs in which this is done, and we did not. I was told it was not for missing persons, and that it had something to do with Jason, something very personal. I was also told one more thing: It had to do with education, and education would also be the tie-in to our cause.

It took me the rest of the night to figure it out. God did not let me rest until I did. The sun had just come over the horizon and a bird sang when I was finally able to close my eyes. Sleep did not come easily though, as I was so excited about the result of my night class!

We were to use the money to establish the annual Jason A. Jolkowski Scholarship to be presented to an area high school senior who plans on continuing their education. What is highly unusual is that it is a scholarship for learning disabled students, who have a more difficult time competing for scholarships with the typical grade point average and other requirements.

Jason has speech and language learning disabilities, although these did not stop him from working in a field he loved: radio broadcasting. The scholarship was a way to give back to the community and honor Jason. Students, parents, and involved teachers would learn about us and our cause as a part of the application process. There was no doubt in my mind that Jason would be very pleased with the scholarship.

I am fortunate that unlike the author of God's Night Classes, I do not have to pray for a cure for cancer. I do, however, pray that if it is His will, that Jason be found. I then pray that if it is not, that I be given the strength to go on without him, and to remain living in the not knowing.

In the still of the night and even in the darkest of hours of our soul, we are reminded that we are never alone.

I dedicate this post to my mother-in-law, Betty, who in the face of her own mortality, fears, and pain, always stops to think of someone else.


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