It’s a blustery cold evening; snowflakes fall to kiss my face as it covers the path leading down into the valley where the barn is located. The snow is clinging to the tree branches, making them appear to be tired and sad. I don’t like seeing the cheerless trees because it reminds me of the day Dad went away. I see a rabbit huddling under an old wagon beside the barn and I wonder how it will find something to eat and keep itself warm.
I have to feed the cattle and milk several cows before I return to the house. This is my duty since Dad passed away two years ago. Mother promises to fix me some hot chocolate with whipped cream upon my return. Sometimes she’ll surprise me with a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Of course, this gives me something to make up for how much I hate milking the cows. I never tell her my feelings because she has never gotten over losing Dad. I see tears in her eyes a lot of times as I watch her sitting by the window looking out at the road like she thinks he’ll be coming back soon. My heart aches for her and I’ll try to do something quick-witted to make her feel better. Mother will say, “You give me strength when I’m down and you make me realize how much I love you Jason. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
In my mind, I deeply resent all the extra responsibilities I’ve had to endure since Dad’s death. I never have time to ride my bicycle or to enjoy games like other children. I feel I’m being cheated out of my childhood years and I believe a lot of resentments are building up inside of me. I’ve never discussed this with anyone but I find I’m questioning God more and more as to why this has happened to our family. I haven’t discussed this with Mother because I see how much she is already suffering. I see her frailties and how worried she looks at times and this distresses and depresses me even more. There’s no laughter in our home and each day we miss Dad more and more. At first, it was as though he would come back to our family. It took me weeks to realize this wasn’t going to happen.
As I walk the trail, I marvel at the beauty of the stars in the firmament. They twinkle like small crystals hanging on a lighted chandelier. The pine trees in the distance look like hairy ghosts peering at me. The sheep in the valley blends in with the snow and the only way I know they are there is from their constant, b-a-a, and b-a-a. I also hear the cows bawling because they sense I’m on my way to feed and care for them. As I walk, I look into the sky, and I ask, “God, why did you do this to our family? Why are you punishing us?” I kick the snow with my foot and find I’m angry and I need to lash out at Him with everything I have in me. Then, I feel a deep sense of shame for what I’ve done. Mother and Dad have taught me to love God and not disrespect Him.
I hear, and echo, “Jason, Jason, are you alright! Jason, if you hear me answer me.” The sound comes closer and I see Mother has come to check on me, and she says, “I was worried about you son...I thought you could use some hot chocolate to keep you warm while you milked. Can I be of help to you? You know I can milk too? I use to when you Dad got sick...I don’t mind honest...really, I don’t.”
I reach over and pulled her close to my side, and say, “Mother, you are a special angel sent from Heaven to watch over me...I love you so much. Look at you, you are covered with snow and your hair is wet...you shouldn’t have come but I’m sure glad you did. I’m afraid you’ll get a cold. Here take my coat it will keep you warm. Yes, you can help me milk but just this once though okay? You have enough of your own chores to do without helping me out.”
Mother grins and starts talking to the cows as though they were her own children. She grabs a hand full of hay and a bucket and sits down the way from me to milk. I watch her and see the love and care she gives to them too and I feel blessed to have her here with me. As I look outside, the daylight has lost its color to a shear darkness and the snow has lit the earth around us. For a minute, there’s no pain, no hurt, all feels alive and real once again.
Mother yells, “Lets pour the milk into the containers, put them in the wagon and we’ll try to get up the rise to the house. It’s getting really slick and the snow is getting deep...I hope we can make it without any trouble. I would hate to carry these heavy containers separately to the house, but we’ve got to get the milk out for the mornings pick up. I’d forgotten how much work this milking is Jason...you know we couldn’t keep the house if you weren’t able to milk...it pays the rent and other payments.”
I look at her, and smile, thinking, I’m glad I never told her how I felt...this would have been devastating to her! I’ll keep this secret to myself and I’ll get through it somehow.
The snow is coming down fast and covering everything as well as the two of us. The twilight from the white snow guides our way up and through the valley toward the house. As the snowflakes land on my face, I reflect on my Dad and feel he is watching over us to guide us through the valley to the house. I envision the snowflakes are his tears falling from Heaven to shelter us from our pain and hurt. I look at Mother, and say, “Do you remember the verse in the Bible you often read to us children before you would tuck us into bed...fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am they God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.” (NKJV - Isaiah 41:10)
We both sit and gaze into the sky, we realize God, our Divine Father, is here and He will never forsake nor abandon us. He will guide us through this rough period into a time of peace and contentment. It is as if the flakes have covered our bodies and washed away all of our anguishes and irritations as we continue onward to the house. Mother looks at me, and says, “You are now the man of our house, you’ll be strong and lead our family through this terrible ordeal...I believe in you and so does God. You’re a fine young man my son.”