Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: My Father's Lap
By Leanna Roe
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She awoke to the touch of her mother’s gentle hand on her shoulder. She could tell by the brightness of the sun she had overslept. “Mommy, am I late for school?” She blinked, still half asleep.
“Honey,” her mother’s soft voice faltered, “Daddy’s gone.” Julie didn’t have to be told what that meant. Daddy had died. She knew it as sure as she knew the sky was blue.
Her Daddy had been sick for a long time and Julie’s seven year old heart had been expecting this. Hadn’t she dreaded coming home from school each and every day? Hadn’t she been terrified she would walk into her parents' bedroom and find his lifeless body?
He was the love of her life and now he was gone. As the tears ran unchecked down her chubby cheeks, a nameless fear gripped her soul. At the funeral home she was afraid to go near Daddy. People who knew her were dismayed. This child rarely left her father’s side. Julie was his shadow, his constant companion, she adored him. They watched helplessly as she sat in the back of the room, crying from the depths of a broken heart. Her playmate Lily, with intuition born of innocence, sat down beside Julie, wrapped her arms around her and together they cried. It was enough.
In the weeks and months that followed, Julie was afraid to leave her mother. She only felt safe when she was at home close to her mother’s side. She didn’t want to go to school and refused to spend the night with any of her little friends, because there was no safety apart from home. She cried at the least provocation and could not be persuaded to return to her own bedroom to sleep and so, tucked in her mother’s arms, she rested. When sleep alluded her, she would whisper, “Mommy, pray me to sleep.” And as her mother’s beautiful voice talked to the Heavenly Father, Julie’s little longing soul drifted off to sleep.
As attached as Julie was to her mother, she never told her of her fears. It never even occurred to her. Besides, she didn’t know what she was afraid of, so she just went on day after day full of fear and dread.
Then she had “the dream”. One rainy day, feeling especially brave, she was playing in her room surrounded by her dolls and toys. Suddenly she saw a man sitting in the rocking chair by her bed. She couldn’t see his face, but she wasn’t afraid. He seemed very familiar to her and she approached him without hesitation. She allowed him to lift her on to his lap and when he began to speak, his tender voice reminded Julie of a gentle breeze whispering through the trees and of the lovely murmuring brook where she and Daddy used to wade. He said gently, “I know you miss your Daddy, and I know you’ve been afraid ever since he died. I want you to know I understand just how you feel. You see, I am your Heavenly Father and I love you more than you could ever imagine. From now on when you’re afraid, just crawl up on my lap and tell me what’s bothering you. I promise I will always listen. I will laugh with you when you’re happy, I’ll wipe your tears when you cry and when you’re tired you can lay your head on my shoulder and rest. You don’t need to be afraid anymore.” Then he was gone although she could still sense his presence.
She climbed up on his lap many times after that day and told him things she could never tell anyone else. She cried on his shoulder when her first love found someone else. She knelt at his knee and cried tears of joy when her true love asked her to be his wife. Many years later, when her Mother died, Julie laid her head on his shoulder and he spoke words of comfort and gently dried her tears. He had been with her every moment and she knew he always would be. She wasn’t afraid anymore.
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