Fear.  It is a feeling you get in the pit of your stomach.  An intense uneasiness.  An acute sense of dread.

Like, when you turn around in a store and your toddler has disappeared momentarily into the depths of a clothes rack.

Or, when Josef came into the house that October day to tell me that the creek ice was “thick enough now.”   And I looked out the window and saw his footprints crossing the thin ice over that deep spot in the creek, the footprints filling with water and the whole area sinking.

Or, when Hans was eight and returned from the outhouse five minutes ahead of a wounded bear sow with two cubs.

Or, when Noah was an infant, not able to roll over yet, and I put him on the bed “just for a second” while I went to get a diaper.  And I heard the horrible sound of him hitting the wood floor after rolling off the bed from a height of three feet.  He cried hard which was good because that meant he was okay.  His mommy was surely shook up, though.

Or, that time I couldn’t find Livvy and I knew the neighbor boy, the troubled one, was somewhere in the woods too.

Or, when Manfred was asleep in that remote cabin all alone and was awakened by a grizzly breathing on the porch.  And then, the door crashed down flat on the floor, torn from its hinges, and then – more breathing…

Or, when Manfred and Olivia came back from the highway and Manfred walked through the door and told us Hans is dead.  And then knowing, as the hours passed while they cut the car apart to get him out, that he was sitting there at the end of our driveway, so close, yet so far and so…


And I could not help him, did not go to him, had no remedy for him.


This is the quiet terror, the sudden blinding fear, that often gripped my heart in those early weeks after the crash…

I must help him.

Mercifully, it passed quickly.  But the instinct to protect, to grab my child from the teeth of danger is still so very strong.  I feel fully ready to face even that wounded bear sow with two cubs if doing so could rescue Hans.  If it could undo the damage.  If it would restore him to me.

I could kill that bear with my bare hands.  I want to kill her.

For I am a mama bear, too.

A wounded one.

The bear licketh her whelps into form, and loveth them beyond measure, and is most fierce, roaring and raging when she is robbed of them.  

– Aristotle, as quoted by Thomas Brooks
Preview or purchase 'Never Ceasing: God's Faithfulness in Grief' by Kim Nolywaika https://youcantrusthim.com/my-book/

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14 thoughts on “Terror

  1. Terror. A knock on the door after midnight. A pair of Sheriff’s deputies standing on your doorstep. One of them is speaking and I hear the name Tom. Hearing but unable to understand the awful words that our son has died. 23 years old. A Marine just out of active duty service and home for only a few months. My wife lost her mind that night. She’s a strong person and has recovered…for the most part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should add my wife is hearing-impaired so she could not hear the words the deputy was speaking. She kept looking at me saying “What, what is he saying?” The look in her eyes…I’d give anything to never have seen that “tell me it isn’t so” look as I relayed to her their message that our son died. I’d give anything to not hear the keening wail that escaped her lips and the words “NO, NO, NO, THAT’S NOT RIGHT!” Over and over and over again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know that look, Glen, and it is heart-breaking. I see it in the mirror sometimes. Reading your experience and imagining the added terror your wife was plunged into has me in tears. My heart wishes I could have been there to somehow take some of this blow for her. The force of it is incomprehensible to anyone who has not felt it. The sounds a mother makes when releasing grief are, by far, more astonishing than any sound she makes when bearing a child. It is sorrow and terror vocalized. Thank you for sharing your story.


    2. The way you describe the moment makes it very real. I wish I had the words to tell you that I feel the moment with you. I don’t “know how you feel”, but I feel the moment and I am so very sorry. Thank you to your son and to your family for his service to our country.


  2. Pingback: Revised Post: Terror | You Can Trust Him

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, Joan. I would like to have known your son. I especially like the last words he left for you on the phone. Hans’ last words were to his brother – “I’ll be right back.”
    Just like the Lord to give us these precious words from our boys before they left us. Thank you for reading and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. joanmariewriting41457

    Oh, Kim, I am so sorry for your loss of Hans, and Dan’s Jaden and Mary’s daughter…
    …such incredible timing of this post, thank you for writing…

    It is a year ago this morning @ 12:57 am, that our son, John left this earth…when his 1993 Ford Crown Vic struck a split rail fence and landed wrapped around a cedar tree across the road, at the end of our long driveway, in front of our home…He had just turned 25 the week before…after his evening work, he had just called me to say “I am on my way home, Mom – I love you, I will see you soon” @12:34 —

    There are no words, but I thank you for touching my heart with yours…I feel your heart hurt…

    He arrived as our firstborn blessing, after 13 years of marriage, on November 4, 1990 @ 12:57 pm – A Beautiful Sunday afternoon – with the sunshine streaming through the red and copper leaves of the elm and oak trees outside the hospital room window…a day just like today, here in Greensboro, North Carolina…except I do not get to hold him and look in his eyes, see his awesome smile, or bring him home to love with my whole heart, — for now, John is beyond my Hug’s Reach ❤ until we meet again with our Lord Jesus Christ, in Glory.


  5. Shawna

    We were also helpless when our daughter, Sophia, went home to be with Jesus after a car accident 2 miles from our house two years ago. She was 18 years old and had just graduated high school with plans to cheer in college. The pain of missing her is still unbearable at times. We were also on the cusp of becoming great friends…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So hard to switch from all the plans and blessings of having them near us, to focusing on where they are now – God’s perfect plan. How I wish I could magically transform our fears and helplessness into untainted joy. But I guess that’s the Lord’s work if we let Him.


  6. Mary

    I, too, am a MamaBear. I, too, felt that helplessness. Being 1300 miles away from my only daughter, the 3rd of my 4 children, when I received the call that she was gone….gone where? Gone to the store? Gone on vacation? Gone forever? The reality struck like a lightening bolt. I couldn’t get home soon enough, I couldn’t get to her fast enough…for what? She was gone, there was nothing I could do, nothing to bring her back. Again, the helplessness sets in. It still does, even almost 5 years later. When I think of the times God could have taken her and he didn’t. Why on January 16th, 2012? Why, when we were just becoming the best of friends? The rough years of mother/daughter trials and tribulations were over. She was 23, the light of my life and nothing I can do is going to bring her back, ever.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gone is a terrible word. When it pops into my head, I pause and then make myself say the whole truth, “Gone to be with the Lord.” I am sorry you are hurting, Mary. Thank you for reading and commenting.


      1. Mary

        Yes, gone is a terrible word, but you made it more tolerable by saying gone to be with the Lord. I hope and pray thats where she is. She was such a good and genuine person. I am so sorry for your loss, also

        Liked by 1 person

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