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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by spazmom on 8 March 2007 - 12:20pm. |

He had lost her again.

How could he bear it? It had been hard enough the first time, without any knowledge it was coming. Now it had happened again, and there was nothing he could do about it. The events of the past couple days washed over him in a wave of sick memories that twisted his gut with uncertainty. Even now he questioned his reality. Did the events really happen? What was real any more?

The memories, the photos, the children - all had become a kaleidoscope of what had been, losing ground to what they were now.

He groaned, lowering his head into his shaking hands. It was such a nightmare - he had only hoped to make everything better, make his wife’s childhood better now that she was gone. When he had realized what was being offered to him, he had been almost crazy with grief and despair.

Now, as he looked back on it, he realized it had been an object lesson. The thought popped into his aching head that perhaps he hadn’t passed. His thoughts trailed back to the first time it had appeared to him, just a week ago...

She had been his whole life. Every day, waking to her lying there beside him, her brown hair spread over the pillow, her smile brightening his morning. Now he couldn’t even face the bed. He hadn’t been able to sleep in it since he’d come home from the hospital. A blanket on the living room couch had worked just fine - especially since he’d not been sleeping well anyway, and the kids hadn’t been doing much better.

The little ones would wake up and crawl under the blanket with him, their cheeks wet with tears. It had been so hard for all of them - her sudden loss, the quickness of it all. One minute she had been laughing at him in the car - the next a SUV had turned a corner too sharply, jumped the curb and ran her over - killing her instantly. It had been awful and shocking - shaking them all to the core. His youngest son still had a problem getting into a car.

The thought that kept going through his head was the fact that if he’d been a better provider for her, she wouldn’t have been looking for a part time job that day - the notion nagged at him. It gnawed at him. It wouldn’t let him sleep. He could have prevented it.

His sister-in-law, Elissa, said he needed to get over it. It had been her time to go, the whole family knew that. Wasn’t that what had been spouted by everyone at a niece’s funeral several years before? She had died while young from a car accident.

All the words hadn’t made it any easier for the girls parents, that he’d observed, but they were all saying it again just last week at his wife’s: When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go - only Heavenly Father can know what is going to happen to you - only the good die young. The well meant platitudes left him feeling cold and hollow.

The words didn’t ease the ache in his heart or the fill the emptiness inside. It didn’t help him have any appetite to eat or desire to work, or want to do anything but sit on the couch - his head in his hands. He felt as if the spirit had left him comfortless. The lack of peace frustrated and ate at him, twisting his gut into a bitterness that wouldn’t go away. Why? Why had he been left alone? Where was his solace now? How could this happen to him? The Lord had promised comfort, but there was none.

Granted, he reminded himself with a tired sigh, he’d had a wonderful life with his beloved. This year would have been their 20th anniversary -

“Daddy?”

His little boy’s voice interrupted the thoughts running through his head as if on autopilot, and he looked up startled. “Hey Danny. What do you need?”

“Daddy, I’m hungry.” The curly blonde haired child pressed close, a thumb in his mouth, something that had started the day of the funeral.

Here he was, 8 years old - sucking his thumb. The school psych people were crazy about it, warning him he needed to address the issue now before it caused more grief later on. He would be socially outcast, etc. Tom figured if it comforted the child for a little while, he wasn’t going to jump on the kid about it yet.

“You are huh? I thought your thumb was feeding ya,” he teased, running his fingers through the soft blonde curls. His wife had loved that hair.

“Daddy,” Danny’s tone was tired and winy, “can I have a sandwich please?”

Tom sighed and, bending down, gave his son a quick hug. “Sure son. Let’s go find the peanut butter.”

They walked into the kitchen which was still filled with all the stuff his wife had loved. Every inch of it triggered painful memories of her. He realized with an aching sort of numbness that he was beginning to look at it with dull eyes. It wasn’t quite the sharp cut anymore - he was starting to feel numb around the heart when it came to stuff he had to deal with every day. He supposed that had to do with grief and life, time stopped for none of it.

They went to the counter and Tom got the bread out of the bread box, while his son got the jam out of the fridge.

There was no idle chatter like ‘how was your day at school - what picture did you make, how’s your friend doing’, etc. Just dad and son making a sandwich, trying not to think - not to feel - anything else.

“Daddy?”

“Yeah son?”

“When is mommy going to come back?”

He dropped the knife he’d been spreading the peanut butter with, making a clatter in the quiet kitchen. His son jumped - startled, and he placed his hands on the counter to steady himself--the pain, the innocent, longing words caused, raging through him.

He should have been expecting the question, it was his son’s deepest desire and only want. He asked it at least once a day, if not twice during his night time prayer, and yet every time - it threw him.

“Danny.” He forced himself to make his tone even, “we’ve talked about this. You know she is up with Heavenly Father and Jesus now. She’s not coming back. We have to get used to doing without her.”

“I really miss her daddy.” The little voice was soft - full of unshed tears, and he found himself down on his knees, hugging his son tightly to his chest.

If only he could make it somehow easier for him! It was such a hard thing for him to understand. Every night he had to listen to the prayers for Heavenly Father to send mommy back to them. It broke his heart over and over and over -

After the sandwich had finally been made and the son shuffled off to find his siblings, he found himself back in the family room, gazing at the wall of photos his wife had created from the day they were married. At its center was their wedding picture, a large 18 x 20 something that had a monstrous frame they’d been given as a wedding present. Circling it were all the children’s blessing photos, and then in a slight pattern, all their pictures and family shots since then.

They had managed to have a family photo taken every couple of years or so, and it always amazed him to see how much the children had grown. He smiled slightly as he gazed at one of his wife and him aboard ship, taken on a cruise they’d gone on two years ago. That had been a great vacation. Then there was the one where they had gone to Zion’s National Park, with all the children seated on a tree limb - his wife standing behind supporting one of the little ones. They’d had some great times, that was for sure. He was thankful now that his wife had been determined to capture each moment on film.

He felt a sense of peace settling on him, filling some of the emptiness inside. His thoughts went over the photos, reliving the memories until suddenly, with a jolt - he realized the wall and the photos seemed a little hazy - as if they were all shifting, moving, and then - gone.

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