Sometimes Our Childrens Questions Answer Our Own

I was changing Ford's diaper the other day when he asked, "Mom, will we always have Tanner?"

Tanner is the family dog, and at twelve-years old, her health is quickly deteriorating.

"No, Ford," I said gently, "we won't always have Tanner. She is old, and she won't always be with us."

"But if she's not with us," he asked, "who will have her?"

Ever since I became a mother 4 years ago, I've been preparing myself for the tough questions-Why am I here? Where do babies come from? Who shot JFK?-but I admit I wasn't ready for life's greatest question in the middle of a diaper change.

I answered carefully. "Ford, when someone is no longer with us, they go to live with Jesus in Heaven."

A tear made its way down Ford's cheek as he said, "Well, I don't want any other dog after she's gone."

One week later I stood behind my grandmother as her husband of 63 years was buried into the ground. Grandpa lived to be 93, so there was much to give praise for, but I was tormented by one thing. He never saw my sons, his only great-grandchildren.

"Can he see us now?" I wondered silently. "Is he looking down from Heaven and finally seeing the boys?"

My other grandfather, Big Jack, died when I was pregnant with Ford. He too never saw my children. And now, today, I have no more grandfathers. No white-headed men to pat my boys' heads and slip them forbidden candy.

But like Ford, I don't want anyone to replace Big Jack and Grandpa. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." Big Jack and Grandpa are gone, but someday we will meet again, and something in my heart tells me they are still here, watching and smiling.

As we left the funeral, I thought back to my conversation with Ford. Very soon he will have to say goodbye to Tanner. I hope I have prepared him well enough.

But then again, as I remember the timing of his question right before my grandfather's funeral, could it be that God was actually preparing me?

Sarah Smiley, Copyright 2004

About The Author

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THIS MUST BE INCLUDED: Copyright 2004 Sarah Smiley http://www.SarahSmiley.com - Sarah Smiley's syndicated column Shore Duty appears weekly in newspapers across the country.

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