The night is still and peaceful and the warm cement feels good on my bare feet as I step out onto the porch to pick a sprig of fresh mint for my tea. The day has been warm, but I have spent most of it inside attached to a computer while the summer day passed almost unnoticed. I pause for a moment there on the porch and look up into the clear night sky. A warm breeze touches my face and a cricket sings to the night and I am reminded of the many nights, not so long ago, when my children would petition me to stay out and sleep on the trampoline with them. Those golden days of summer have gone, but the warm night makes them easy to recall.

There is an ache in my heart tonight as I sit and think back to the many, many, nights we have spent on the porch talking and laughing together. I remember when Jennifer would sit in my lap and the boys would sit cross-legged on cots and we would tilt Justin’s wheelchair in a reclining position and tell stories and secrets as the summer night darkened around us. When they grew older, we would stay up and listen to audio books long past sunset, enjoying the story and each other’s company despite the weariness of a long day. There are even nights in recent years where as young adults and older teens they discussed future plans and dreams in the dark of a warm summer night.

But the ache in my heart tonight is not a longing for days now past. I rejoice in those memories and I pray there will be many more such nights; they may not be as common, but they will be just as treasured. But tonight my heart aches – it breaks – for children whose Mama will not be there to build those memories with them. My dear friend whose smile could light the room and whose sweet, sweet, spirit could reach straight to your heart is gone and she has left behind seven beautiful children as a legacy. I know many arms have gathered them in tender embraces and gentle hugs in these past days, but none of those arms have been Mama’s arms and I hurt for their loss and struggle to comprehend it.

And so, as the warm night cloaks me in darkness and the gentle breeze dries my dampened face, I do the only thing I can do – I pray for them. I pray to the one whom I question and ask for an extra measure of grace to cover them and for quiet trust to return to all of those who like me are once again reminded that we live in an imperfect and broken world and once again remember we were created for another place.