After having worked nights for the better part of the last twelve years, I have found coming home in the morning many times more gratifying than most people would or could ever understand. If you have or do work third shift, you will completely understand what I am about to say. And before you even ask, the answer is yes, when I’m tired I try to stop before I go too far, too far as in having an accident or close call.
Oh, there have been the many close calls. More than once I’ve looked up to find a semi-tractor trailer coming at me head-on, only to have me swerve back into my own lane, now wide awake; glad to step foot across the threshold of home, alive once more. I often too clearly can imagine the pain it might feel like to become one with the heat and metal of machine as the impact collides us together with such force there would be nothing left to identify. I fear that it might be a family in the other lane, and I then shake myself alert, growing angry at myself over my eagerness to continue and my selfish hesitation not to stop.
Not every morning was totally overwhelmed by the lack of sleep. I’ve seen beautiful sunrises, some that were so awe inspiring they couldn’t be imagined. Those are the ones that if you painted them as they looked, nobody would believe they were real. I’ve seen wildlife of all kinds. I once saw a bear run across the road. On that particular morning I was fighting fatigue so severely that I was on the phone literally having someone talk me home, something we do in dire circumstances. I was so mentally exhausted that when I reached the point in the road where the bear had crossed I jumped out and began to see if I could confirm it was a bear by following it into the woods. Thankfully the person on the other end of the phone had more presence of mind and began yelling at me to get back into the car.
There were other times, when I would nearly drift off the road where there would be little recovery if any from diving headlong into the lake or endless ravine below, only to swerve back, barely recovering in time, again wide awake. On more than one occasion, I’ve been driving down a long stretch of road, tree-lined usually on both sides, and suddenly come to the realization I have no idea where I am. I would be so tired, that I was losing the ability to process reality and at that point that I would have to wait for a landmark to remind me if I were going to work or coming home. There was the time I over corrected from running off the side of the pavement, just barely, but it was enough to start the car spinning. I vividly recalled going backwards in the oncoming lane thinking to myself, “The Lord is control now, because I’m certainly not.” After several spins I wound up in the ditch on the opposite side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic. However, on this particular morning, there wasn’t a car or truck in sight. It was just me in my little blue car. Yes, I was shaken, but other than the loss of a tailpipe, I was very blessed to have not had a more serious incident.
Those mornings, the ones with close calls, I would have extra special hugs for the little ones that might awaken, sleepy-eyed from their precious night’s slumber totally unaware of the fate their father had almost met just minutes before. All these years, when sleep was fighting to shut me down, it was the thought of making it home once more to hear those little squeals of joy ring in my ears, welcoming their daddy home that kept me going. Those times, when they were just getting their little legs, learning to run for the first time, hitting the front door running when they knew daddy was coming home, was the ultimate reward for living. Even after all these years, now that they are older and reaching their teens, I still get the sense of joy and new awakenings when they meet me at the door, now more subdued, but still able to rejuvenate that feeling of worth and being.
I can only imagine that someday when we make it to the promised land, the same feeling of having those loved ones meet us at the Heavenly gates, arms open wide, unassuming, unconditional love, wrapping us in their warm embrace with the greatest reception we will ever know. It will be like those mornings when the tiny arms hugged your neck, with an energy that lifted your soul and washed away the weariness from having worked for days with little or no sleep, until you felt refreshed and anew with the spirit.
It is then we will finally be home, …one last time, when our Heavenly Father will lift us up, once more as we ourselves become the little children, wrapping our arms around God, embracing him in his eternal love.
It is said in the Bible that all things will be made anew and not a tear will be shed on the other side of Glory.
Yet, for me, I know there will be at least one …one tear…tears of joy.