Waiting for the Dawn

Missy let out a whoop from the window seat. Another bad guy DOWN!

“Wow!” Heather called out from the laundry room, laughing as the echoing cheer reached her. It might have reached Berthoud, now that I think about it. Right along with the flash from Missy’s smile.

No surprise. She’d been waiting for this reading night.

For the past few months, Missy and I have been traveling the ways of Harry Potter. Together, we’ve followed the world’s favorite boy wizard as he learns, grows and readies himself to face a powerful destiny.

But as one character sardonically notes, it’s not exactly a nice, easy job. He’s mocked. Mistrusted. Even tortured. He watches friends and mentors be destroyed, one by one. By the time the seventh book comes around, Harry’s on the run with his best friends, with no idea how to achieve his world-saving quest and only the vaguest idea of what that quest really is.

He’s down. Flat. Doomed. As hopeless as the Rockies’ World Series chances.

And then … ah, but you know how this part works.

J.R.R. Tolkien knew what to call it: “Eucatastrophe.” It’s a big word with a big idea. With a catastrophe, things are going well when suddenly disaster strikes. A eucatastrophe is the opposite: evil is winning, darkness has fallen, things have gotten so bad they just couldn’t get worse … and suddenly, the first beam of light breaks the clouds.

It’s the Stone Table cracking.

It’s Washington crossing the Delaware.

It’s despair turned to hope, desperation turned to triumph, suffering turned to whoops of joy.

And it’s not limited to books and movies.

Curiously, we finished Harry Potter the day before my 14th wedding anniversary with Heather. And if you think Hogwarts is an adventure and an education, it’s got nothing on marriage.

For a long time, Heather and I used to joke “When does the ‘For Better’ part start?” Not that it’s been a bad marriage – on the contrary, it’s been amazing – but for the longest time, it felt like we were part of “Exodus: The Sequel,” receiving all the plagues left over from Pharaoh.

Her Crohn’s disease flared up.

Her medicine allergies mounted.

That wonderful autoimmune condition known as ankylosing spondylitis showed up.

My epilepsy returned, for the first time in six or seven years.

Add in all the other worries of a young American couple – money-related, work-related, family-related – and it began to feel like we had Mount Meeker on our back.

I think most couples reach that point. Maybe from different paths, but it’s a well-worn crossroads.

But it does lead somewhere.

For us, it led to Duchess the Wonder Dog. To a move back to Colorado. To a medicine that tamed the worst of Heather’s symptoms (most of the time) and finally to life with Missy, with all its joys, challenges and wonders.

We had held on through the dark, long enough to reach the day.

There may be other darknesses. This world seems to specialize in them at times. Bullets in a movie theater. Fire in a forest. Skies that stay stubbornly dry, or that bear planes bent on a mission of devastation.

In times like that – times like this – all we can do is hold to each other, look for the light to return, and do everything we can to make it happen.

We stand together as friends. As neighbors. As family. As spouses. Not always daring to hope, but not really ready to quit, either.

We stand. And in that stand can come an incredible story.

Just ask Missy.

And then hold on to your earmuffs.