"Mama, will you pray for me?"
I love those words. Those are the words I heard tonight after I'd put both boys to bed. Lately, the boys have requested that I pray aloud for them, with them, as they drift off to sleep. Tonight, Andrew seemed more settled and I didn't want to upset him with the prayer. I sneaked out, thinking I would steal a few minutes to relax in Mark's big chair, maybe watch the local news and weather, or even write here in my blog. You see, my boys, our boys, are having a hard time, especially at bedtime, missing their daddy. I think it's because he was so involved in their nightly routine, and the fact that they've slowed down, gotten quiet, and they have time to think about him more. They think about what they've lost. What they used to have.
But Andrew needed that prayer tonight. I cranked down from the chair, crawled into his bed, held him tightly and prayed. We pray for comfort, strength, wisdom, understanding. We pray that God's plan will be revealed to us. We pray that our worries will go away, that we will relax and live for today, leaving God to work out the details of our future.
It's tough for me, too. The boys want separate rooms, and are sleeping that way. But it makes it doubly hard on me. Trying to comfort and console two sobbing boys, in separate rooms, at the same time, is practically impossible. I'm doing the best that I can, we all are. I hope that it is good enough to get us through this latest bump in the road.
"Mama, you are the best mom in the world. I don't know what we'd do without you."
I love hearing that one, too. It's natural, I guess, that they've become more attached to me, more appreciative of the things I do. Ben has moved out from my bed, which is a big deal. He was becoming too attached, and we both needed our separate space.
"Mom, when did you know that you loved Daddy?"
That's a great one. For me, it really was love at first sight. It may sound like a tired old cliche, but it was true in our case. It took awhile to get your Daddy to come around, but homemade brownies, piano music, and good old Kentucky Southern charm finally won him over.
"Mom, why did God take Dad?"
I don't have the answer to that one. I never will understand God's reasoning. I've been told by many wiser people than me that on the day I stand face to face with Jesus, in heaven, I will understand it all. In the meantime, no earthly explanation makes any sense whatsoever. The best I can come up with is that bad things happen to good people all of the time. No family is immune.
Even in the midst of all this pain, I can look back over these past 8 plus months and see good things that have come from it. I have developed a deeper relationship with my God, and I am a kinder, gentler, more patient woman and mother. I don't take anything for granted, and I'm striving to live every day the way Mark did, to the fullest. I try to look for the positive in people and in situations, like he did. I never heard the man utter one negative comment about anyone or anything, and that's no exaggeration. I could do alot worse than live like he did. "Living like Daddy," that's my aspiration.
Andrew and Ben, good kids before losing Mark, have become simply extraordinary. They are so empathetic, so kind, generous to a fault. They are fiercely protective of me, and of each other. I know Mark's so very proud. They seem wise beyond their years. It's a direct result of their circumstances, and I can't stop it. So, instead I choose to embrace it, making sure they have abundant opportunities to "just be" 8 and 10 year old boys.
We made it through Easter, and it wasn't as hard as I expected. That is a good thing. We planned an over night getaway for that evening, with the boys being off yesterday; Great Wolf Lodge was the diversion, and it was a resounding success. They played, they swam, they waterparked. They spent hours on MagiQuest throughout the lodge (a sort of interactive game with wands and specific quests/hunts for items). I relaxed a bit, working on my column in the big cozy lobby while 3 boys cast spells and looked for clues.
Mark didn't get chosen for the spot in the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame this year. I was initially disappointed, because I know in my heart he deserves it, but I was encouraged to re-submit him next year. I have decided that time will give me a more objective perspective on his application, and I can make it so much better by next February. See, there's that positive spin I'm trying to put on things....
We're healthy, we're busy, and we're making it. There are happy moments interspersed in the midst of the tears and sadness. We laugh. We cry. We remember. We laugh some more.
We know where Mark is. We know that we will see him again. The boys chuckle that they are sure that he's cooked fish for Jesus, and that he free falls on a regular basis, just because he can. They talk to him, and they say he talks back. I believe them. I can hear him urging me on, or chiding me whenever I do something he wouldn't approve of. I want to make him proud. I'll spend the rest of my life doing just that, raising his boys the way he wanted. For they are his greatest legacy.