Our party boy comes alive after midnight. Robbie sleeps a great deal because of the seizure medications he takes, but for some reason, even after taking the largest “cocktail” of medicines that he takes at one time, it is in the wee hours of the morning that he wants to play. With Mama. Just as Mama is ready to go to bed. And Mama isn’t happy about it.
Oh, that’s not really true. Mama is tired and really does want to go to sleep just as he is revving up, but it makes my heart happy to see him having a good time. Robbie is normally quiet throughout the day, but just at the stroke of midnight it is as if someone flipped a switch and suddenly he is excited and LOUD! Party-time! Whoo-hoo!!!
He grabs the basket of his favorite little toys that sits next to his recliner and dumps the whole thing into his lap. He starts digging through the pile, tossing toys over the edge of the chair until he finds the noisiest things in the collection. Oh, yeah! The obnoxiously squawking chicken! Maracas! Greg Wiggles who talks and sings in high volume! Jingle bells! A pie pan—good for banging over and over and over and over…and over! A pair of Chinese drums in two different tones of annoyance! Anything that shakes, rattles, squeaks, squawks, bangs, clangs, sings, rings or blasts the eardrums is fair game! Fun, fun, fun! Let’s make a joyful noise!
Mama dozes off on the couch despite the racket. It is 2:00 in the morning when next she opens her eyes and Robbie is looking at her reproachfully as if to say, “You party-pooper!” She drags herself off the couch and says, “Sorry! Time for bed, Robbie!” She picks up all the toys, gathers up all his pillows, and finally pulls him to his feet. “Stand up big and tall,” she coaxes as she tries to pivot him toward the bed next to his chair. At last! The long day is over.
One of us must sleep with Robbie in case he has seizures during the night. It is important that we do not let his seizures get out of control, so that means stopping them as quickly as we can. It has been that way for the last twelve years. I am the night owl and I sleep more lightly than Bob, so I take the night shift. Bob will do the early morning stuff for Robbie, then, and let me sleep a little longer. It works out fine for us and Robbie gets the care he needs.
It is the moments after I put Robbie to bed that are so sweet and precious to me. When the lights are out and the TV is off, we talk. I tell him how much mommy and daddy love him and how thankful we are that God gave him to us. I tell him about Jesus and heaven and how he will see Jesus and Grandpa in heaven someday. And I tell him how wonderful heaven will be when he will be able to walk and run and jump and dance. And I tell him how wonderful it will be when he will be able to talk and sing and tell me all the things he wanted to say on earth. In the dim light I can see him beaming, and in the innocence of a one or two year old, he pulls my head over to him and hugs and “kisses” me with his chin again and again. When he finally is done, he crosses his hands over his chest in the symbol for love and “tells” me, Love you, Mama!
When I say ‘we talk,” I mean that I do the talking and Robbie listens, responding through his facial expressions and loving gestures. Robbie has never spoken except to say ma and da and do a few signs like please and more. It was only four years ago, when he was thirty-three, that he began to sign Love you! [See Love You—Criss-Cross My Heart! March 8, 2009] In the last week or two, however, he has decided not to wait for heaven to use his voice to “tell me all about it.” It has been in those quiet moments in the middle of the night, when he has Mama’s undivided attention, that Robbie has suddenly begun to “talk.” Oh, I cannot understand the words he is trying so fervently to say, but I can understand that the short little sounds coming out of his mouth are words to him and he has something he wants to tell me. It is enough for him that I recognize his efforts. I say incredulously, “Are you trying to talk, Robbie? Are you talking?” Yes, yes, yes! he beams, so excited that mama understands.
He talks for a while, and then he starts to sing—long, drawn out sounds in different tones. He has been “singing” for several months now, sometimes with Mommy and Daddy, or sometimes just to entertain us. It was the same scenario when we realized for the first time that he was trying to sing—the joy on his face that we understood. The joy in our hearts that Robbie was finding his own way to communicate and make a joyful noise unto the Lord. You cannot imagine the joy that such a small thing brings!
Words to Say—Robbie’s wordless “words” are a blessing and a gift to us. I know when we get to heaven that his words to us then will be one of my greatest joys in a place of unceasing joy. They are precious now because they are few and take great effort on his part to express, and they come from a heart overflowing with love.
I wonder if we realize how valuable the words we say to others are to them. A word of encouragement or support; words of instruction or godly counsel; words of love, compassion or comfort. We sometimes feel at a loss for words when someone near and dear to us needs us to reach out to them. I tell myself that just listening is sufficient, that I don’t need to say anything. I rationalize that a hug, an arm around the shoulder, a squeeze of the hand or a pat on the back will convey my heartfelt feelings. Those things are very true many times, but there are times, as well, when we need to speak out with words that will linger, nourish and uphold. Pleasant words, the Bible says, are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24) Sometimes just a word of testimony of how the Lord has been faithful to you will be an encouragement to someone who needs to be reminded of His faithfulness. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (II Corinthians 1:4)
At other times we do not feel that we have the wisdom to offer counsel, or that we cannot know what the other is feeling because we have never experienced what they are going through. When we are at a loss for words of our own, God’s words are the best. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16) It is good to have God’s Word hidden in our hearts, ready at a moment’s notice to be pulled out and used to strengthen, comfort or encourage someone. Even if it is only a few verses of Scripture, the Lord will use them and they will not return void. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another… ( I Thessalonians 5;11)
Words to Pray—There are times when we are at a loss of words to say even to the Lord. Whether it is on our own behalf, or for the sake of others, we do not know how to pray. It is at those times that we simply begin with worship of Who He is—the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, holy Creator of the universe and our Savior. We offer our praise and gratitude also for what He does—the salvation He has freely and sacrificially given us and for all His provision, protection, guidance and healing. It is all about Him, after all. He tells us, though, that we may boldly bring our requests before Him. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) When we do not have the words to pray, though, because the need is so desperate, or our hearts are breaking, or we simply do not know the will of God, the Holy Spirit steps in and gives words to our prayers, making intercession for us. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Robbie does not have the words to say aloud, but his heart is full of what he would like to tell us. He is thrilled when Mommy and Daddy understand his heart, whether they can comprehend his “words” or not. In the same way, we can rest assured that God recognizes our hearts’ prayers even when we cannot put them into words. And even as we rejoice in Robbie’s effort to speak, God delights in our prayers, as well.