All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.—PSALM 38:9 (NIV)
When she first came to live with us, my 91-year-old mother sighed with every move she made—up and down stairs, in and out of chairs. Was it her back pain? Was she grieving her husband’s death or missing family and friends she’d left behind? Perhaps she felt exasperated with the bleak mid-winter gray skies. It seemed likely a combination of these, but when asked, Mom couldn’t explain it.
The sighs seemed infectious. During one of his visits, my grandson said to me, “Did you know that you just sighed five times in the last minute?” “I don’t think so,” I said. “Yes, you did,” he said. “I was counting.” His comment gave me pause.
Mom and I were both in transition—trying to put together the pieces of this new chapter. Perhaps her sighs were a kind of prayer. We built some routines together like making meals, doing yard work, and folding laundry. At bedtime, we read a psalm and prayed. Mom eventually stopped sighing and started humming. Even singing. Her growing contentment and happiness put a song in my heart, and I stopped sighing too. We’d both landed on the side of joy.