I live in an area where we only get sunrises and sunsets part of the year…the Land of the Midnight Sun, and I try each day to make sure I watch one or the other and give thanks…just to be alive, but also for the beauty of each one.
My husband laughs and says,”… oh look…just like yesterday’s!” He doesn’t see the subtle differences each dawn or dusk brings. It doesn’t mean to him what it means to me.
I think the only person that has ever truly related to what I see…and feel… with the power of a sunrise is my eldest grandson Daniel.
When my son and his family lived in Melbourne (AU), my husband and I were visiting and had met our then year old granddaughter Claire for the very first time.
In the morning, Daniel, then three, would wake up each morning and lie in bed and sing. It was a wonderful way to wake up as our bedroom was next to his. Then, each morning I’d hear his little voice saying “Excuse me Gramma”….it would start in a whisper, and get progressive louder in a pleasant sing song way, never a yell. It made me smile because that was our bonding time. Daniel was a morning person like me.
One morning, the “Excuse me Gramma” call began earlier than usual…and in earnest. I sat up immediately, looked at the clock and jumped out of bed. It was just after 5:15am….Yikes! I didn’t want him to wake anyone else…and something might be wrong…the tone of his small voice told me this was urgent.
Quickly I opened the adjoining door and slipped quietly into his room.
There he was, kneeling on the bed, his little head hidden under the black out blind on the window. I knelt beside him and said “Daniel it’s very early…what’s wrong?”
“Gramma, quick look!” he said pointing to the far corner of the house that was just barely within sight.
“What sweetheart? I don’t see anything.” I said.
“There Gramma, in the sky….it’s almost gone. Can you see it?” “It was beautiful. There was purple and pink and blue. See? There. Where that yellow bit is.” he said, amazement and disappointment both coming through in his voice. “It’s gone” he said softly and turned to look at me.
I will never, ever forget the look on that child’s face. It was filled with wonder and awe, as though he had seen something truly magnificent…something so wonderful as to defy description.
I hugged him tight. “You missed it Gramma.” He said in a small sad voice. “It was beautiful” he whispered. “I don’t know what it was.”
Oh my heart! I thought it would burst at that very moment! “I didn’t see it Daniel but I think I know what it was” I said. “It was a sunrise.”
” What’s a sunrise?”, he asked.
“It’s a promise Daniel” I said, looking into the face of this wonderful, curious, brilliant child.
“The same as you go to bed when it gets dark, so does the sun, and in the morning, the same as you wake up, so does the sun. Just like when you rise from your bed, the sun rises too. Those colours that you saw in the sky is the sun stretching it’s arms and smiling at the world after a good night’s sleep”.
“Does everyone get to see the sunrise?” he asked.
“No Daniel, not everyone is as lucky as you. Some people go their whole lives and never see a sunrise. You are a very fortunate little boy.”
That day, I told his parents and his grandfather what had happened….everyone thought it cute, but to me it was more than that. I asked his parents for permission to keep him up an hour or so past his bedtime that night. There was something I wanted to share with him.
Just when he was about to get ready for bed that evening, I told him to wait. He and I were going for a walk. He was excited and asked why, but I just told him I wanted to show him something special. About 20 minutes after his normal bedtime, I took his hand and we started walking away from his house toward the west. After about four blocks, I stopped at a bench and hoisted him onto my back.
Look at that Daniel I said a few minutes later as we cleared the cluttered skyline filled with houses …it was dusk. The sun was beginning it’s descent and didn’t disappoint.
“Daniel,” I said….”this is a sunset. This is what I wanted you to see”. We weren’t disappointed. The colours were spectacular.
As we walked home, hand in hand, in the early darkness of the evening, I thought to myself…I hope you remember this day Daniel, for I shall never forget it.