All Her Children

Maddie was sitting by the window in the kitchen. The light was better to see the apron she was stitching. She took a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at the tears on her cheek.

The police officer had just left. He had come to tell her and Bob, her husband, about the accident that had taken the life of Ray, their oldest son. He had been killed by a drunken driver while working for the city driving a water truck that washed the streets. The police captain had dispatched the officer to go in person and deliver the news, to let them know Ray had died instantly, and did not suffer. Ray was 35 years old.

Bob came in, moved a chair near Maddie, and sat down. He reached over and patted her arm. "Are you all right? We need to pray" he asked.

"I don't feel like talking to God now. Two years ago He took Frances, our first born daughter, with meningitis. He took Herbert when he was only 16 and fell from the train car he was working on at the railroad roundhouse It was hit from behind by a careless person who wasn't watching out for my son.

Dora, my youngest child, was taken from me with the flu. She was only eighteen months and had no chance to live. Now He has claimed my oldest and dearest. I have three children left out of seven. Will He take them too? Do I just sit and wait until they are all gone?

When Ray drove past our house today on his way to work, I did not know it would be the last time I would ever see his smile or wave to him. Why wasn't I fore warned or even allowed a proper goodby?

Am I being punished for my sins? What did I ever do to deserve loosing four children? Have I been a bad mother?

Where was God when my children were dying? He could have saved them. No, I have nothing to say to Him at this time."

Bob knew it was useless to make any further attempt at conversation with Maddie. He placed his hands over his face and silently wept. When his tears were spent, Bob arose and poured two cups of tea from the pot that was always hot. He added sugar to both cups, then added milk to Maddie's cup.

He passed the tea over to Maddie who took it without a word. She sipped slowly, wiping tears between sips.

When the tea was finished, Bob asked Maddie if he could talk to her a bit. He took her hand in his before saying "Maddie, you asked me where was God when our children were dying. Let me tell you that he was there. He took Ray by the hand and removed him quickly from his earthly body so he felt no pain. He did the same when Herbert fell off the train where he was working. Neither of our girls lingered but a few days. God was there then, and he is here now. He is always with us. God never left the children.

Those children were never ours. They've belonged to God the whole time they were with us. I don't know why he chose to take them, and I won't question His reasons. Maybe some day He will reveal it to us. Until then, I will put my hand in His and go where He leads me.

My faith will sustain me.

I can tell you that those children were not taken for sins you may have committed or because you were not a good mother. You always have been a good mother and wife.

There is no way I can ease your pain. I am in pain too. I can only cry with you. You will have to ask God for help with the pain.

We need to talk to Him and ask His help in getting through this bad time. Now we must make arrangements to bury our son's earthly body, knowing his soul is with God."

Maddie bowed her head and Bob was sure she was making her peace. They sat in silence until Maddie arose to wash her cup. "Yes, Bob, you are right. I know there is a reason for everything. Sometimes it is really hard to see it. We have to trust God to know best."

Five years later, Bob was called home.

He told Maddie as he lay sick with cancer that he knew now why his children had gone on before. They would be there to welcome him when he arrived. Maddie woud say later she knew there was a wonderful, glorious family reunion with Bob and their children. Her three remaining children would be a comfort to her until the end of her days.

Clara Wersterfer March 2008

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