The day after my birthday, we went to church as usual. In the afternoon, DD was entertaining herself listening to some of her favorite story tapes. DH had gone to do “lay activities” as some SDAs refer to the Sabbath afternoon nap. I was playing the organ. DS1 had given DH and me each a new Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal for Christmas and I’d set out to learn all the songs. I’d started at hymn #1 and was working my way through. When I’d tire of that, I’d flip the pages and play what struck my fancy. One of my favorites was “A Song of Heaven and Homeland.” It was written by E.E. Rexford (1848-1916) and Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908).
A Song of Heaven and Homeland
Sometimes I hear strange music,
Like none e’er heard before,
Come floating softly earthward
As thro’ heav’ns open door:
It seems like an angel voices,
In strains of joy and love,
That swell the mighty chorus
Around the throne above.
O sweet, celestial music,
Heard from a land afar–
the song of Heav’n and Homeland,
Thro’ doors God leaves ajar!
Now soft, and low, and restful,
It floods my soul with peace,
As if God’s benediction
Bade all earth’s troubles cease.
Then grander than the voices,
Of wind, and wave, and sea–
It fills the dome of heaven
With glorious harmony.
This music haunts me ever,
Like something heard in dreams–
It seems catch the cadence
Of heav’nly wind and streams.
My heart is filled with rapture,
To think, someday to come,
I’ll sing it with the angles–
The song of heav’n and home.
I had no sooner played the first phrase when I heard a loud snore come from the bedroom. Strange music, indeed! The timing was perfect. I kept playing but it was difficult as hard as I was laughing.
However, there were lots of days I had a heavy heart. My drug use was more on than off and one of my friends had introduced me to wine. I spent a lot of my days revving my engine and at night I’d drink wine to calm down and be able to go to sleep. I was still able to function but it was wearing on me. I regarded four hours’ sleep a night as sufficient. I couldn’t maintain it forever.
The bathtub was where I did my deep thinking. I’d close myself away from everything while I basked in the warmth of the water. One night, I felt my life was crumbling around me and I knew I couldn’t handle it alone. I silently screamed, “Lord, please help me!” After that, I felt a peace I hadn’t before. I knew I was going to be okay. I didn’t know how but I knew.
DH was fighting his own demons. The weight of debt from the trial was getting him down and he was easily swayed when he was approached by someone ready to make some quick money. He didn’t give me details but he was off on another trip. He promised to keep in touch.
It was back to school for DD and me. Our days were routine. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, then get into the schedule. We had formed a habit of Monday through Friday doing the identical things over and over. The differences came in the content but the subjects were the same.
I hadn’t heard from DH but he hadn’t been gone that long, either. Friday was Valentine’s day and I was making DH a chessboard with plastic canvas and yarn. It wasn’t too practical but it was the thought that counted. He’d cornered me in the bathtub (!) early in our marriage and taught me to play chess and I’d gotten good enough I could beat him occasionally. We didn’t have a TV, still, and I had the radio on. It was early in the morning on February 13. I was sitting in the kitchen working on the board and DD was busy getting herself ready for school.
The usual music and banter was interrupted by an excited announcer. I don’t remember exactly what he said but the gist was, “There something going on in the skies over town! It’s a dogfight! There are two planes and it looks like one is trying to knock the other one down!”
I laid the nearly completed chessboard on the table. The sky was falling and I was Chicken Little. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.
The rest of the day was surreal. It was like I was moving in slow motion and I was in a fog. I didn’t know it was really DH in that plane but part of me was sure it was. My body was going through the motions of doing whatever had to be done but my mind whirled.
Some way, I got through that day and managed to get some sleep in the night. Late the next day, DH called and said he was on his way home. I was full of questions but he said he had to go and we’d talk when he got there.
Well after dark, there was a knock on the door. I looked out the kitchen window and there was DH, waiting. I couldn’t get down the steps fast enough. When I let him in, he hugged me a long hard hug. He was shaking and smiling a nervous smile. On our way to the other part of the house, he stopped to check on DD and kissed her as she slept.
There wasn’t a lot he would tell me about the episode except yes, he had been flying the plane and the other plane had been chasing him for hundreds of miles. The pilot of that plane would fly close enough to use his landing gear to hit the tail of DH’s plane. It was tough but he kept it under control. He leaned the fuel out to make it last longer and got more time out of his supply than the other plane did. The pilot gave up and went to the closest airport to refuel.
DH went to a small airstrip, landed and abandoned the plane. He was able to work his way home from there. I asked him what was going to happen. He said he didn’t know but whatever did, DD and I would be cared for. I didn’t press him for details. It didn’t seem appropriate.
The phone rang. He answered it and listened more than he talked. There was a sober look on his face when he hung up. “I have to go.” “Go where?” “I don’t know but I can’t stay here.” There was a short, sharp sound of a car horn. He pulled on his jacket, kissed me and walked out the door.