Train Ride

My kids are talking and asking about dad faster than I can
keep up. I feel like I'm on a train leaving the station with one foot ready to
board and the other still on the platform. If I don't leap forward it's bound
to leave without me.

Like tonight when we say our bedtime prayers. Now I lay me down to sleep. Maddi folds her hands and says, "I want to say a prayer to Daddy."

"Okay," I tell her.

Eyes closed she starts, "Dear Daddy, Go to bed, get up to eat. Sleep some more and eat some more so you are awake in heaven. Put us in your heart. And when you are done eating and sleeping we will come to heaven, too. Amen."

I smile, then notice her eyes tear up, "I didn't want my daddy to die."

I catch myself ready to tell her I know. But, I don't know. Here I am on that accelerating train not able to pretend I know where we are going or where we will end up. I don't know the heart of my children's loss–losing a parent. I don't know what it is like to be four years old and have your security shattered. I don't know how to best help them. I don't know how to respond to their hurt. I'm boarding with caution.

"Tell me more about that, Madelynn."

Rubbing her red eyes she says, "I never want my daddy to die. Never-ever. I don't want him to put down the bricks."

Now I'm on board.  She believes the stop-sticks were bricks that daddy built up to stop the bad guy.

"Mommy, how did he die?" she asks, clearly wanting more.

"Well…" I stumble, losing my footing.

I need something to hold onto like the train's mounting handle designed for those having trouble hoisting themselves up.

"A car hit him, Maddi. A bad guy made a very bad choice and hit your dad and then he died."

"No, Mommy," she tells me, "Daddy built the bricks and the bad guy hit the bricks and daddy went up. Daddy went up to heaven."

Her hand soars upward mimicking an airplane. Maybe it's a train that has left its tracks.

Jordan listens to every detail from the bunk above and adds, "Wouldn't it be cool, Mom, if I could get 100 balloons and float up to heaven?"

"Yes," I tell him.

"When do we get to go to heaven, Mama?" Maddi asks, curious.

"When God says it's time. He knows. And we have to trust."

Restless, she has a hard time falling asleep and interlocks both of her hands with mine. I hum made-up melodies to her until she is sleeping, willing to do anything to give her a sense of security…a message that I am here.

We are on the train. Sometimes it slows down, but not often. Usually it keeps to a tight schedule determined to make it to the next stop. Even if my footing is a little shaky I trust we will get to where we need to go.

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