Horatio locked his vacant eyes on the sea. The wind groaned. The swell of the waves rocked the boat violently.
Terror filled his soul.
Was this what it was like for my little girls? Horatio wondered.
Two sailors watched Horatio leaning over the side of their boat.
“Cap’m we best be gettn’ him inside, before this wind gets worse.”
“Let him be.”
Horatio glanced at the two sailors whispering in his direction.
Let them talk. I have to see the place. Oh Lord, has it already been three years?
Horatio’s thoughts drifted away as he looked heavenward. The black clouds, dotted with shades of grey swirled across the charcoal sky.
Did You do this for my girls? Did You summon death to dine with the clouds? Did You call on evil to make its’ bed in the sea? Answer me!
Horatio's thoughts became words.
“Stop hiding Your face from me! I WANT AN ANSWER! You killed…them.”
His knees buckled. Strength vanished. Tears of grief flowed.
Why didn’t you warn me? I was their father. I should’ve been there… To stroke their hair and whisper that everything was going to be alright…
I was there. I told them everything was going to be alright. They knew me. I knew what made Bessie laugh and which tooth caused Annie pain. I knew Maggie’s dreams and Tanetta's deepest desires… I brought peace to their tiny souls.
Horatio brushed his sleeve against his tear stricken cheeks.
He rested his arms against the guardrail and stared at the watery grave of his four daughters. He closed his eyes, shutting out the world around him.
Maggie, his sweet little girl, danced in a beautiful pink dress. She looked up. Her brown eyes locked with his.
“Daddy! Can you twirl me?”
Maggie ran towards her father. He spun her over his head. Her joyful giggles rang throughout the air.
“Mr. Spafford! This is the spot sir.”
Horatio turned and saw the first mate standing nervously in front of him.
“Thank you.” Horatio muttered.
The young navigator scurried away.
Horatio took out a shaggy brown teddy bear from his suitcase.
“Bessie, you loved this bear. I remember the night you had to sleep without it because you lost it. You cried for over two hours. I cradled you in my arms, telling you I could be your teddy…I…”
Unable to speak another word, Horatio tossed the bear into the sea. The waves entombed it.
Horatio pulled out a necklace.
“Maggie, you loved this necklace. You would beg mom to let you wear it. You claimed it made you a princess when you wore it. The necklace never did that. You did that… You were and always will be, my princess.”
Horatio flung the jewels into the dark abyss.
Emotion overtook him as he bent down to pick up a piece of paper protected in the front pouch of his suitcase.
“Tanetta, do you remember that beautiful drawing you made of our family? Everyone was smiling… I miss that sweet, innocent smile. I miss…” Horatio’s voice trailed off.
The paper twisted and turned in the dark waters as it was sent to its grave.
Horatio sank his hand once more into the suitcase.
“Annie, you made this hat for me. I remember the day well. You were so proud. You said the whole family would wear hats when we visited Jesus. You said we would all celebrate. Sweetie, I know you’re celebrating and one day, daddy and mommy will join you…”
Horatio let go of the hat and turned away before he could see the colors disappear into the waters. Grief tore sadistically at his soul.
Oh God, I want to die. Please…
I’m here with you. Always remember that I bring hope amongst the deepest pain.
Horatio looked up, contemplating the words spoken so deeply to his spirit. A wave of peace settled in his heart. A peace that the waves couldn’t steal.
I will see them again.
Get your pen and a piece of paper.
Horatio recognized the prodding. He looked in his suitcase and spotted his quill. He took out his ink and grabbed a piece of paper.
He readied himself and began to pen the words that pierced his spirit.
*When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billow roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
*Words by Horatio G. Spafford.
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