Wednesday, April 27, 2005


[instead of paying attention in class]

The small boy played with his big Tonka dump-truck in the sand box, hauling loads of dirt over dunes and through valleys in the burning desert heat. As he dumped his truck's precious cargo into the impressive and ever-growing pile in the corner of the box, he saw his mother standing a few feet off, watching him play. She stood one arm crossing her chest, hand tucked under her other arm with the other hand covering her mouth. The boy noticed a strange look on his mother's face. Was she scared? Was she angry with him? Was she impressed with the amazing pile of sand he had started? He tested the water.

"Do you see how big a pile I made, Mommy?" She seemed not to hear him. He spoke a little louder, "Mommy, lookie what I did. It's big, huh?"

His mother slowly nodded her head. She removed her hand from her mouth and tried to say something but was choked up. She cleared her throat and nodded.

The small boy stared back at his mother for a moment and stopped playing with his truck. She didn't seem impressed with his achievement. "Mommy, are you made at me?" he looked down, expecting a talking-to.

He heard his mother sob once and then quickly say in a strained voice, "No, honey. No, I'm not mad." She took a few steps toward him and knelt at the edge of the sand box. "I . . . ." she stopped. Tears formed in her eyes. "Come here, Joel, I need to talk to you."

The boy still unsure cautiously crawled through the sand, towing his truck behind him. He was frightened; he'd never seen his mother act so strangely and he didn't know what to expect. When he reached the edge of the box near his mother once again began loading the back of his truck with hot, dry sand. He didn't look his mother in the eye.

"Honey," she started, then paused, "your father . . ." she thought for a moment and brushed Joel's bushy hair out of his eyes. "Daddy won't be coming home tonight."

Not understanding the significance of this, he played along with his mother, "Will he come home tomorrow?"

She started to cry. "No, honey, he won't be coming home tomorrow. He won't ever be coming home. Daddy is lost." Through a lake of tears, she helped her son fill the back of his truck with sand.

"Where did you lose him?" he asked, thinking of all the places he looks when his loses his toys.

"I didn't lose him. Someone took him from me, from us."

"Where did they take him?" The dump trunk was full, but Joel decided not to dump it in the big pile on the other side of the box. He seemed tethered to his mother. He dumped his truck where it sat, wondering where his father could possibly be.

"Sometimes people are take away to a place where they can't come back from." She continued to cry softly. After a few moments she spoke again. "Sometimes people are taken to Heaven . . . when they die."

The young boy looked up at his mother finally. "Did my daddy die?"

[the end of class]

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