Present Tense (May 2009)

Recently I had the first of what I imagine will be many such conversations. We ran into a friend whom we had not seen since our seminary days. He was very kindly interested in all we had been up to and wanted to hear about our Britain years as well as how things were going here in Minnesota. I knew the question was coming and I steeled myself for it, wondering what I would say and how I would say it.

And, sure enough, it came quite quickly: “And still no children?”

Before there was time for an awkward pause, without hesitation, I answered, “Yes. We have a boy and a girl.” And then I quickly added that they are with the Lord.

I saw the first dawn of joy and interest in his eyes and then watched it disappear as quickly as it had come to be replaced with sympathy and sadness. I tried to imagine what it was like to get such a shocking answer in response to a simple and quite normal question. He is a kind and believing gentleman and was neither scared off nor put off by what I said. And, later on, during a quiet moment he looked at me and said what every mother longs to hear: “Tell me about your babies.”

I don’t know if I will always answer that question the way I did, but I know now that it is a blessing to me to be able to testify to others, even as the tears fall, that I AM a mother, that I have two children and that they are in the sweet presence of Christ. And, that He calls them by the names we gave them.

We have a friend who lost a son a number of years ago. He was speaking of this to Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda explaining that he had five children but one is now in Heaven. The great man said to our friend, “You HAVE five children. Never lose the present tense.”

“How many are you then?” said I, “If they two are in heaven?” Quick was the little maid’s reply, “O Master, we are seven.” “But two are dead; those who are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!” ‘Twas throwing words away; for still the little maid would have her will and said, “Nay, we are seven!”  – Wordsworth

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