Sometimes, True is afraid at bedtime. Often when he is going “night night” he points to the bedroom window and says “Boom booms.” It all began back in the summer, when some of our neighbors lit off some fireworks, no doubt leftovers from the 4th of July. I think the neighbors were probably a little ‘lit’ themselves. Anyway, the rocket’s red glare flew by our mailbox and exploded with a bang outside True’s quiet room. That was all it took. From then until now, he has been constantly on the watch for more boom-booms. He has awaken from sleep on more than one occasion, crying in obvious terror. Upon being gathered into our arms, he describes the boom-boom that invaded his dreams.
I wonder what these boom-booms are in his two year old imagination. He knows nothing of our nation’s independence day. He does not understand explosives. He just knows that a loud noise once disturbed his peaceful world and that it made him unsettled. The explosions are gone, but the fear remains. I cannot erase True’s memory. I can only assure him that the season of boom-booms is gone for now. We are all quiet until next summer. And, after more summers and winters pass, True’s fear of fireworks will be a fond memory, long past.
Memory can be horrid, but it can also sweeten things with time. Looking back on a dreadful time in life that robbed your joy (or sleep) can, through the wash of memory, cause us to allow a small smile to come to our countenance while we shake our head in wonder. How we ever made it through is overtaken by the pleasant knowledge that we did make it through and indeed the memory does not hurt us. Not now.
I was remembering some things myself the other day, and through the filter of years, the quality of the past experience came rising to the top as the hardship and inconvenience fell away. Ask any old timer, the days of yore shine brighter than whatever may occur today. That walk to school that we reluctantly undertook each weekday now is summoned to recall and worn like a badge of honor. The tedious hours spent in Saturday catechism or Sunday School are logged in memory’s perspective as having been good for us. However dear the memory, it is forever set in passing time. The future yet beckons, as it flies quickly toward us. We cannot escape it, nor do we know what it will bring. Whatever it is, we do know, it will stay for just a while and then become a memory. True won’t fear the boom-booms for much longer, and the frightening dread of the night will sublime itself into pleasant memories of a little boy in his little room upstairs, in a big house on a quiet street, with neighbors who drink just a bit too much, in a place called Freetown, in a very big world. And, as for me? I will scoop him up from his nightmare and treasure this little blue eyed child with a head full of curls. I will always remember that I once was able to make the boom-booms seem not so frightening for this precious boy of mine. Dear God, I pray I never forget.