a Women Writer's' Showcase
by Linda Andersen

The August summer day had dawned sunny and clear in Western Michigan, but by eleven o'clock, my inner climate was stormy. The incessant bickering of my two teenagers had annoyed me to the point of leaving for a drive in the country, and I ended up in a tiny well-shaded graveyard just a few miles from home.

A slight breeze stirred and whistled through the gigantic pines, and my edginess subsided as I strolled around the ancient gravestones. I had asked the Lord to "please do something" as I left, but I really didn't think He would, and at this point I wasn't so sure He even cared.

I walked aimlessly at first until one of the gravestones caught my eye, and I knelt down to read the inscription, tracing the words with my finger.  The stone was so old and weather-beaten I could hardly make out the words.

Children of C. and A. Arndt, it read on the front.  Stepping to the side I read, Charley, died June 6, 1883, aged 5 years.  The third side of the stone read, Ricke, died May 22, 1883 aged 6 years, 19 ds   Two children died within a month of each other?  Incredible!

I was in for yet another surprise as I walked to the fourth side of the simple tombstone.  Francis it said.  Died May 18, 1883, aged 3 years, 4 mos., 15 ds.  At this, I sat down and sorrowed for the unknown parents of one hundred years ago who had tasted death so bitterly three times in one month.  An epidemic, no doubt.

I wondered if the parents of those children had ever had days like mine with their children, and if they regretted every impatient word and angry tone after the children died.  I would, I know, and I was sure they did.  I knew that if these parents were alive now they would urge me to go back home and love my children.  I knew they would say, "Learn to laugh with them more."  They would remind me that life on this earth is so very terminal and that I must live it fully and abundantly as the Lord had planned. 

I'm sure they would point out God's kindly commands to give thanks in everything and to rejoice always.  Perhaps they would even tell me to live each day with my family as if it were my last, for some day would indeed be the last.

But they didn't need to come back to tell me these things. Their gravestones had already done so.  And I had listened.

The End

Linda Andersen is a freelance writer with 6 inspirational books and 300 articles behind her, and lots of fun ahead of her.  Her next book, "The Too Busy Book"  will be released by Waterbrook Press in October, 2004.  Contact Linda.