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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Like a Child
By Sandra Petersen


Mount Brett wears a golden crown of sun rays as I park my car in the trail head lot. Wispy clouds blush pink with sunset. I pocket my keys, thankful that no one seems to be around.

My business is with God and I must be alone to conduct it.

I move quickly along the first hundred yards of level trail. Grief fuels my steps. As the trail begins to wind upwards, I slow my pace. My husband and I, newborn son cradled in a front pack, hiked up this mountain earlier this summer. The thought drives a knife into my heart.

After about fifteen minutes I arrive at my destination, one I have frequented often in the past two months. Far below, Seagull Lake is a tiny jewel nestled among towering pines. I perch on the ledge, dangling my feet, and tip my face skyward.

Now, God, it’s You and me. I have some questions and I want answers.

Canada geese honk overhead. I strain to catch a glimpse of the V-formation as they flee winter. They seem intruders in this one-sided conversation.

One-sided? I wonder. Are You there, God? Or have You left me like my husband Stan? Stan, who walked out this morning with a suitcase in his hand and a promise to collect his remaining possessions later. Or have You died like my baby son Zach?

“Are You there, God?” I scream to the heavens. “Where are You? Why have You forsaken me?”

Tears flood my eyes. I cry in my loneliness, no one to share the depth of my sorrow. Stan could not understand my grief. Neither could the multitude of well-meaning friends and family who surrounded us for a week, then went on with their lives. I hug my knees and bury my face, moaning and weeping. No one will hear.

“Do You understand, Lord?” I plead.

After some time, I shiver in the chill air of the autumn evening. While I wept, the sky prepared for night. The moon will not appear for an hour, maybe more. I rise to my feet on stiffened legs.

For just a moment I peer over the edge of the precipice. It would be so easy to launch myself headlong onto the rocks below. I contemplate the idea, savoring the thought that I would see my baby again. Or would I? Would this God who has been silent for two months welcome me into His Paradise? Uncertain, I stumble from the edge and turn to the trail.

I was foolish to come here so late in the day. The path has loose gravel and my footing is unsteady. Fear replaces grief and I breathe out panicked puffs which crystallize in the frosty air.

When I quicken my pace, my feet betray me and I fall to my face. Shards of gravel tear at my knees, palms, and cheek. I pull myself to my feet and sway for seconds before plunging headlong down the trail again. Blood streams from my injuries. The throbbing pain slices through the physical numbness I have endured since Zach’s death.

I reach the level ground of the trail head. Fishing my keys from my pocket, I want nothing more than to be enveloped inside the safety of my car. I slip behind the wheel and insert the key in the ignition.

Why am I so afraid?

I turn the key and the radio blares at me. A well-known minister says from the speakers, “I have never suffered the loss of a young son or daughter, and I can’t imagine the ordeal of a grieving parent.”

Why should I listen to you then? I think in anger. I reach for the knob when his next words cause my hand to drop to my side.

“But I know One who has. If you are grieving, He understands. He watched as His Son willingly submitted His body to be mutilated beyond recognition and hung on a cross of tortuous death for your sins.”

I listen and my heart tells me that this is the answer for which I have waited these two months.

“The world can offer you only temporary peace for your pain. He offers you long-lasting peace and the opportunity to see that baby in Heaven someday. You are His child. Come to Him.”

You do understand, Father.

As the minister continues his sermon, I cry fresh tears. I embrace my Savior like a heartbroken child and healing begins in my soul.

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This article has been read 1242 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jennifer Wetter11/23/06
What a beautiful piece of writing. It really burrows deep within the soul.
Shanti Singh11/24/06
Thanks for writing so honestly about your grief, and the way God met you. Beautiful!
Cherry Bieber 11/26/06
This is so tender, raw, and beautiful. I have been there. For a time I was embittered with the seeming impatience of those around me to "get over it." After a time, I realized that it truly is part of ALL humanity to be only truly compassionate toward those things through which they too have passed. Thank you for the open heart in this!
Laurie Glass 11/27/06
What a descriptive and emotionally charged piece, obviously written from the heart of one who has been there. There must be a place for this outside of FW. I can see it touching many grieving parents out there.
Ann FitzHenry11/27/06
Very emotional piece. You really described the pain and grief expertly. As a reader, I could feel the main character's inner turmoil. Well done.
william price11/28/06
The inner story here was delvered expertly. To get a reader inside a character's head is very challenging. Very, very good entry. God bless.
Cheri Hardaway 11/28/06
I have a friend who lost a child two and a half months ago, her twelve-year-old son. An unexpected fatal accident while he played outside. I couldn't even begin to imagine the family's pain and grief. You have expressed things well, and pointed your readers to the only One who can truly understand or comfort us in our trials. Blessings, Cheri
Jan Ackerson 11/28/06
Yes--that's exactly what it's like to wrestle with God. I've been there, although not under those exact circumstances. You wrote what must have been a very difficult piece, and we have all been blessed by it.
Todd Tribble11/29/06
I have also stared over the edge during a heated debate with God...and contemplated whether or not I would see my child again. This piece that you have written is one of the reasons why you had to step back. Look at how many people you have touched...well done.
Donna Haug11/29/06
I cannot even begin to imagine that kind of grief! I had a vivid dream when my son was a newborn that he had died and no one would allow me to grieve. They kept telling me to get over it. I woke up in such pain! I cannot imagine. And yet, God is faithful THROUGH the pain. Good writing about a difficult topic.
Joanne Sher 11/29/06
This is absolutely tactile and heartbreaking and real. I can't imagine how hard it was for you to write this, but you did it expertly, and I thank you for it. Wow.
Donna Powers 11/29/06
I can easily imagine her conflict. You depicted it vividly and well. This was very touching. Thank you for sharing it.