Sunday was a long day. My supposed day of rest became anything but. I was still pretty upset when I woke up in the morning; I told Talya about my dream, and, apart from being initially upset at the thought that Reena had been killed, she didn’t seem much to care about the possibility that I had maybe started forecasting the future.
“The chances that you could tap into the past were already pretty slim,” she reasoned. “What are the chances that you could also tap into the future? Even slimmer. I agree with Jeffrey; last night was a good, old-fashioned nightmare.”
Her seeming lack of empathy was grating; how would she feel were she had she seen one of her coworkers dead? But I refrained from commenting, as I didn’t feel up to a debate. Plus I didn’t want to upset the kids any further. They had felt something was off as soon as they had woken up and were unusually quiet. I appreciated it – I also didn’t feel like screaming kids running around the house.
I went to see Jeffrey right after breakfast, calling Reena on the way. She didn’t seem particularly upset at my dream, which Jeffrey had already told her about.
“Was I a good-looking dead person?” she giggled.
Didn’t anyone get the potential seriousness of what had happened? I hung up on her without answering that rather offensive question. Talk about being morbid.
Monday came by as a relief. I had spent a more or less relaxed Sunday evening with the kids; we had take-out pizza in front of the Sunday night Disney movie with the kids, whom I then walked through bedtime preparations and tucked in to bed – something that always brought joy to my heart. But it was still nice to be out of their sight; I had felt so watched the entire time, and it had taken every ounce of energy I had to keep a straight face.
I came into the office with something of a scowl on my face, matched by scowls on Connor’s and Reena’s faces.
“This is going to be a great day,” David sighed, only to leave an hour later to work from home.
Not that I blamed him. There wasn’t much of a positive ambiance in the office today. I couldn’t bear to look anywhere but at my computer screen. Queasiness had taken a hold on me and didn’t seem to want to let go. Neither could I look at Reena; it would only bring more sharply into focus the sight of her dead on the floor, battered and bruised.
I managed to get about three hours of solid work done – I always worked better under duress – then fled the office. I walked around campus a little randomly, then stepped into the downtown shopping area. The hustle and bustle was a little bit too much, so I ducked into a side street. A couple of blocks down, I noticed a beautiful church, one of my favourites, and decided to do something I hadn’t done in a long while: I stepped inside.
It’s cool interior greeted me with a soft brush on my cheeks, an old friend welcoming me back.
I tried to pray, I really did; but it seemed like I might have forgotten how to, or I was so perturbed by what had been happening to me lately that it was blocking me from the long ago performed yet still oddly familiar act of praying. All I could was stare at the altar, at the paintings, at the crosses scattered throughout the church and wonder.
It was only after a few moments that I realised someone had already been sitting in the pew I had chosen. I had been so self-absorbed that I hadn’t noticed anything but the fact that I had to sit down ASAP lest my trembling legs decide to stop supporting me. I looked up, and he was smiling at me.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
Something about him touched my heart, opening up the gates to emotions I had been keep in check for over 6 months now. I shook my head.
The man nodded; it felt like he had understood me through only a shake of my head. It was unsettling and oddly comforting at the same time.
“I know,” he said. “Sometimes, when you need it the most, you just can’t get it out.”
“It might also be a lack of experience,” I admitted. “I haven’t done this in years. To be honest, I don’t even know what to say.”
Again, he nodded, his eyes filled with understanding. “That might be because you, like most people, forgot that you pray with your heart, not your mouth. Just close your eyes and think about praying; and, when the time comes, when you are ready, you will transform those emotions into words.”
What he was saying made sense. After all, if there was such a thing as an all-knowing God, He would know everything I was thinking. But a Christian upbringing, however liberal, made me dependant on the written word; it didn’t feel like praying until I would read something that was from a higher source. After a brief hesitation, I shared my thoughts with the man.
The man smiled again, so peaceful a smile that I envied it from the depths of my soul, a smile that was a sharp contrast to the deep sadness in his eyes. He took out a little laminated card from his pocket. “A friend gave this to me when I was in a terrible place and couldn’t pray. I promised him I’d never throw it out and pass it on to the next person I thought might need it.” He handed the card to me. “You must promise me the same.”
It was only a laminated card, but the gesture made tears well up in my eyes. I blinked them away and thanked him. I took a few moments to collect myself, then read the words. O God, guide me, protect me – exactly the words I needed to hear. This time, I couldn’t control them; the tears welled up and overflowed onto my face.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, but when I looked up, the man had already left. I felt my heart swell in gratitude; I carefully put the laminated car in my pocket and left the church. I hadn’t gotten any answers or any insights that would help me, but I certainly got strength to carry on.