A lost and lonely soul discovers the joy of a simple light after surviving trauma.
Paul crawled from the rubble that remained from the epicenter of his life. Nothing more than gray ash dust from the bricks and jagged edges of the once sturdy beams that had held his world solid and upright. What had happened? How had everything he held sacred and dear come apart in mere moments?
This had been the perfect, sunny Sunday afternoon. Playing in the backyard with Jen, his beautiful wife of five years, and Tyler, their 3 year old son. Watching Ty maneuver the shiny new slide with his wonderful, chubby, toddler legs and bright red sneakers with the flashing lights. Listening to his squeals of delight every time one of them picked him up and smacked his sticky cheeks with raspberries kisses. Flipping burgers on the grill while Jen and Ty shared cherry Popsicles, thus the sticky cheeks!
When the dark clouds started gathering in the southwest, the picnic was gathered up off of the patio table and moved inside the house to kitchen. The darkening sky did nothing to dampen their perfect day. The laughter continued as the hamburgers and potato salad were consumed. Giggles became contagious watching Ty playing with his finger jello, making it wiggle and jiggle, talking to it and answering himself back in a higher pitched voice; the make believe conversation between child and gelatin so full of sweet innocence.
The noise came from no where. Deafening, thunderous roar, like nothing Paul had ever heard before. There was no warning at all, no quiet build up of sound, just the sound of hundreds of trains all converging on them at the same time.
The noise was instantly followed by the most intense pressure Paul had ever experienced. Pressure inside his head so severe he was sure it was going to implode. Paul could feel every cell of his own blood forcing it's way through the constricting veins in his body. Every joint separating, pulling away from the bone next to it, as if his limbs were attached to the beams of the house that were being shredded before his eyes. This torture wrapped itself around him in slow motion, he experienced every pixel, every frame. Those few seconds, mere moments that destroyed his world, seemed to him to last forever.
And then it was over. Total silence. The silence more deafening even than the noise had been. The destruction was complete. From somewhere far off Paul could hear screaming, someone needed help! As he tried to move, trying to determine if he seriously injured, Paul realized that he was the one screaming. His body wasn't injured, but his heart would never be the same.
Not only was his home completely destroyed, but in his arms lay the lifeless forms of Jen and Tyler. His mind focused on the bodies of his beloved wife and son and it was then that he could hear the word that was issuing from his soul. "NO!"
Sunlight, earlier warm and perfect, now harsh and garish, shed merciless light on the lifeless remains of Paul's world. Paul kissed the faces of Jen and Tyler one last time and struggled out from under the rubble that held him captive. Climbing higher the devastation his neighborhood took Paul's breath away. Turning around he could see for miles. The entire town was flattened. There was no movement anywhere. Dear God, what had happened?
As the cold numbness of shock set in, Paul turned away from everything that he'd ever known, everything that was... now no more and never would be again... Paul walked... away. Away from the town, away from his home and family, away from his life. Paul walked until the road was no longer paved. Paul walked past sights he had not seen since he was a little boy visiting his grandparents on the farm. He walked past fields filled with crops beginning to grow. He noticed deer in the distance at the edge of the emerald green fields of corn, coming out in the coolness of the evening to feed, guarding their young fawns at their sides. Paul noticed that the fawns still had spots on their backs. So peaceful, so innocent, so like Tyler. Walking further Paul began to see fireflies here and there as the light became softer in the waning day.
Even though he'd not been there since his Grandfather's funeral, Paul found himself walking down the dirt lane that let to Grandfather's house. It was nearly dark now, but he knew without a doubt that this was Grandfather's lane. As soon as he turned the corner Paul was transported back in time, he remembered walking this lane with Grandfather when he was a young boy, holding Grandfather's hand. Here, nothing had changed.
The trees were so tall they touched over the road, creating a green foliage canopy so full and complete as to create a world of its own. Inside this green tunnel, there was very little light, except for the fireflies. Thousands upon thousands of fireflies in the strange green cast of the green canopy of the dirt lane that led to Grandfather's house. It was a magical lane, one you wouldn't find unless you knew it was there.
As Paul's mind carried him back in time, he could almost here his Grandfather's voice, strong, deep, and always so gentle, telling him that the fireflies were God's reminder that even in the darkest night, God was here with us if we would just take the time to look for Him. Not knowing what he would find, Paul continued down Grandfather's lane to see if the old house was still there. The walk down the lane was soothing and Paul's tears started to flow.
At the end of the lane Paul found Grandfather's single story weather worn farm house waiting for him just like it had when he was young and his parents had no time for him. The fireflies couldn't be counted. There had to be millions of them. Paul sank to his knees and wept from the depths of his soul.