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Panther Post: Family outing brings back memories

I tiptoed past the memories hanging on the walls and crawled under my mother's cotton sheets. She was crying again. To try to comfort her, I snuggled my head under her arm, and hummed the song my father would always sing me when I was upset...

"Emma, wake up," she said as she nudged me. "We need to get ready for church."

I could barely open my tired eyes. My mother pulled on my dress, and before I knew it, I was strapped into my seat. The Michigan air was becoming warmer each day. As we drove by the big lake, I wished I could be on boats with all the other families. But we barely ever went near the lakeshore anymore.

"Why do we have to go to church, Mommy? He never gives me what I ask for anyways."

At this she looked at me from the rear view mirror and stared at me with her deep green eyes and said, "I've learned it's not enough to just ask, we need to listen to what he has to say as well."

I tried listening, but whenever I closed my eyes I could only see my father plunging into the cold water after my brother Jonah. The waves were huge and must have been too strong for him to bring them back up. All I could do was scream, cry, and pray for them to come back up. They never did though.

After church we went to the park. After about an hour, my mother fell asleep reading her book under the large oak. So, I decided to go exploring. The park was filled with people. I looked closer at the shore. There was a boy with the same sandy blonde hair as Jonah. As I walked closer, I had to rub my eyes a couple times, but I couldn't believe it. There he was just skipping rocks, my brother.

"What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be with Daddy?" I asked.

"Yes, but I needed to come visit you. Mom is having an extremely hard time right now and I need you to be strong for her. If she ever seems upset, just tell her that we love her."

"Why did you have to go in the first place? I miss you more than anything in the world."

"It was just my time to go, but I'm in heaven now so it's all right," Jonah assured me.

"What is it like there?"

"Oh you just wait. It's nothing you've ever experienced before. I have to go now though. Hurry back to mom before she wakes up, because we wouldn't want to make her worry."

"Don't leave me again, Jonah!" But when I looked back up he was already gone. I grabbed the stone that had been in his hand and dropped it into my pocket, wiped the tears off my cheek, and hummed as I walked back to the oak.