“Mom, I don’t want to have to wait to see Daddy again… Mom, I don’t want to wait till I’m 90 to see Daddy again! I want to see him…..”

These words sting. These words hurt. These words cut deep! With tears in his eyes, these were the words my little one said to me right before falling asleep.

I immediately wrapped my arms around him and held him for a moment. I heard my little one express words that I never, ever expected to hear him say, definitely not at such a young age. My heart broke. Broke for a little boy that wishes to see his Daddy one more time. A boy whose whole world revolved around spending time with his Daddy. A boy that just can’t seem to make sense of the events that changed his life forever. The shattered pieces of my heart quickly pulled together with one thing …HOPE… the words he said hurt, but if I really listened there was hope in the words he spoke. Hope in the promise that Our God gives. A hope that this little boy believes in and holds tight to. Hope that one day this little one would see Daddy again.

Nights like tonight are the ones no one but the two of us see. Nights like tonight happen more often than not. Some nights it’s looking through pictures because he doesn’t want to forget. Other nights it’s sharing things he and his Daddy enjoyed doing together to help ease some of the hurt. Many nights it’s trying to get out questions that have no answers, or feelings that he can’t quite make sense of.

Tonight, as my little one slept next to me, tears streamed down my face. I’ve heard over and over how resilient children are. Is this resiliency? Is my little one resilient? Can he really just bounce back from losing his Daddy and continue with his daily “stuff”?

As an adult, I’m learning to navigate a new life. A new me. Keeping thoughts together some days is a struggle. What once seemed very natural to do now seemed like a chore. Trying to remember where I was going. What was that thought I just had? What did he/she just say? All this my little one is expected to do every day, and he does! At least he tries…

Yes, he is involved in extracurricular activities after school. It’s what keeps him going. It’s what keeps him involved with others. It’s what keeps him connected with the real world. Doing these “extras” keeps him from constantly thinking of what life is not like anymore. But reality awaits as we begin to make our way home. A reality that he cannot run from.

So, yes, he does have time. He has time to get homework done. He has time to get studying and reading done. He has time for all these things and more. But this boy has had to work so hard all day to stay focused and alert in class that he can’t anymore. Homework at home is a battle. As he sits trying to get it done, I might find him with a picture of Daddy in front of him or tears streaming down his face. It’s here that I choose to work on loving my son. Loving him right where he is! It’s here that homework goes unfinished. Nightly reading takes a backseat. Everything stops…. he and I take some time to heal.

You see, tomorrow morning, this same little boy will wake up early and start a new day. He will put a smile on his face and try not to think about last night. He will sit through his classes and try not to lose focus on what is being taught so that hopefully he can remember it for tonight’s homework. Sometimes his thoughts may stray, and he needs to find a distraction from them…. sometimes that might get him in trouble. He will continue to smile and inside fall apart because he has disappointed his teachers. As he goes through his day, things remind him of his Daddy. Maybe it was something said, a song that quietly played in the background, a little detail in the assigned reading, or simply a thought that entered his thinking. A new concept or skill is being introduced today, but he’s already lost. He is lost in his thoughts.

Tonight, I wonder how many “Sammy’s” are sitting in our classrooms every day. How many are lost in their thoughts before even starting their school day? How many struggled the night before and didn’t get support or reassurance that tomorrow just might get better? How many of “our babies” are putting on a smile and just “making it” through the day?

Sally Fodge
Widow of Deputy Samuel Paul Fodge, Jr.