Her Prayer

Dear God. Please help Mama not to miss Daddy so much…”

She handed me the prayer letter after Sunday School. Carefully formed letters tilted downhill across the pale blue page. I read it, hugged her to me, and shut my eyes tightly against the tears threatening to spill.

I bowed my head.

In humbleness, for the innocent request of my beautiful little girl.

In defeat, for my failure to shield the depth of my grief from her.

I’m trying so hard to keep it together. But nine months hasn’t changed anything. I miss him. And she sees that. I make daily schedules and carefully fill in the calendar squares with appointments. But just keeping on doesn’t always work and my heart is barely held together with tattered bandages of frayed hope and desperate prayers. I swallow the grief every day and I take out the trash and wave to the neighbor and the pain overflows and pushes against the cracks of my broken heart and it can’t take the building pressure and it’s too much.

Behind the closed bedroom door, deep in the closet, with his shoes on my left and his shirts hanging to my right, I scream and a pillow muffles the anguish of living without Kevin. I scream and I scream until my throat is raw and the ragged sobs are rough and hoarse and my cries unintelligible. And when the last empty cry echoes in the room, I crawl out of the closet and to our bed and fit myself into the hollow he left, desperate to feel him near me again. I close my tear-tired eyes and he’s there and the spicy scent of him surrounds me. He whispers, “Are you okay?” and I nod yes, then no, then choke out “I don’t know” and he pulls me close, comforting and sad, “Oh, Baby Doll.” His shirt is wet with my tears and they soak into his heart, but they’re not enchanted tears so he can’t come back to me. I miss him so much.

I wake up. In the early light of the new morning, she’s there, watching me, her Kevin-blue eyes gauging me. She sees the sadness, but she keeps looking for the living-ness. I feel lost, sometimes, but she needs me to really be here. To be with her. To love her and notice her and help her feel less lonely in our half-world.

I smile.

I reach out and tap her nose with my finger.

“You know what, Little Bear? I love you.”

She flings skinny arms around my neck and her laughter bubbles up and floats above us, higher and higher until it pops and sprays of joy and hope splash over us. She’s so beautiful. I am blessed.

After Kevin died, she worried that God doesn’t always answer prayers. But I told her He does. Every single one of them. The answer is not always yes. But He answers all of them: the ones that are screamed at Him, the ones that are whispered, and the wordless ones He hears only in the rhythm of a barely beating heart.

God answers prayers, I told her firmly.

So when the papers were passed out that morning, she didn’t need time to think. She grasped the pencil and grabbed God’s promise and in the middle of a noisy, crowded Sunday School class, she carefully scrawled out a few simple words and asked Him to comfort me.

Dear God. Please help Mama not to miss Daddy so much…”

I smooth the page and read her words over and over and I add my own words.

Help me to grieve, God, and help me to heal. Help me to be the mother she needs, one of love and gentle words, the mother who points to You in the middle of this broken life. Use her words to bandage my heart and seal Your peace inside. And when the joy feels too far away, help my beautiful little girl lead me to it, one step at a time.


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