Thirteen-year-old Betsy Swanson paced the floor nervously. It had been three hours since Mama and her new stepfather had taken four-month-old Julia-May to the doctor for croup. When they had left little Julia was wheezing badly.
“Oh when will they get back? They have been gone for so long. I hate waiting.” As she gazed out of the window, Betsy’s thoughts shifted to the last couple of years. After a year had passed living with Aunt Rebecca, Mama had found out what prison Betsy’s father, Troy, was staying in. Mama went to visit him and brought him a Bible.
Later that month she received a letter from the prison saying that Papa had died from pneumonia. A year later Mama had married a man named Ryan Cunnings. His former wife had died of typhus. He had one son who was fourteen named Sam. After Mama and Ryan had married, some trouble started.
Thirteen at the time, Betsy’s brother, Levi, had not done well with another authority in his life, and he seemed to detest Sam. After getting into many arguments with his mother, his step-pa and his stepbrother, Levi ran away. He had been gone for three years now, and nobody had seen or heard anything from him.
”Betsy?” Ten-year-old Hannah’s voice brought her back from her memories.” When will Ma and Pa be back?”
“Yeah, when will they be back?” Sam joined in.
“Hannah, I’m not sure, and Sam, you’re older.You should be telling us not to worry,” Betsy told her siblings.
“Well don’t worry then,” Sam said with a sly grin, taking his step sister’s advice, “Hey, Betsy, will they be back soon?”
“Arghh, go back to bed if you can’t be a comfort.”
“I ain’t goin’ to bed if it can be helped.” Sam glanced at the clock. The clock showed 11:27. Hannah, who had been gazing out the window into the dark street, shouted excitedly “Hey, there they are.”
All three siblings huddled around the window as they gazed onto the street where their parents were coming.
“Where is the baby?” Sam’s eyes were wide, and his face suddenly pale. It made his freckles stand out even more. He ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair.
The door opened revealing the children’s parents, and no baby.
“Mama, wh-where is Julia-May?” Hannah asked.
“Kids sit down, please,” Ryan said.
“She’s dead, isn’t she?” Sam abruptly said.
“Sam, sit down now
Sam grudgingly sat down.
”Is he right?” Hannah asked.
“I’m afraid so, sweetheart,” Kate sadly answered her youngest daughter.
“But how? Mama, you told us that we all had croup when we were babies. We didn’t die. Why was it that Julia died, why did she have to die?” Hannah started crying.
“I know honey, but the doctor said it wasn’t just croup. She also had a weak heart.”
“Oh Mama, I can’t believe it. She’s really gone,” Betsy whispered.
“We are gathered here together to celebrate the short life of Julia-May Cunnings. Though she lived a short life she brought much joy and blessing into many people’s lives. She was loved by all who knew her. Her family, her father Ryan, her mother Katherine, brother Sam, and sisters, Betsy and Hannah. All loved her and will greatly miss her. We thank God for the little blessings he bestows upon us no matter how short. Earth to Earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the blessings you daily give us. Please be with the family today and the days to follow. Amen.”
It had been two days since the funeral. The family had been coping well. Well, at least most of them. Hannah was extremely silent, apart from her normally boisterous self. And Sam was quiet and not talkative. Betsy was okay. They all missed their baby sister and were coping in their own way. Than a big shock came.
“Mama, Mama, where are you?”
“In the kitchen, Hannah,” Kate answered.
Hannah ran in carrying, a letter that the postmaster had given her.
Katherine opened the letter, expecting it to be from her family from the ranch. “Children come to the kitchen. A letter came from Grandma.”
All the kids came running to kitchen. Ryan came as well. ”Come on Mama, what does Grandma say?” Betsy asked impatiently.
Kate looked confused. “It not from Mother . . . It’s from Levi.”