I worked that evening on some tasks that were given to me - important things in this situation. It kept me busy. A couple fed the kids dinner and played with them. Then around six, they were ready to go home. Oops - didn't think the message of exactly what I needed had gotten through. I needed someone there every minute the kids were home and awake. I had to be free to get the phone at a moment's notice. I called for back up. Other friends arrived to do the bedtime routine.
I had my phone glued to my side - what if he was able to call? Not wanting to miss anything.
I also talked with all the people who phoned in to express sympathy or find out how they can help. Different groups praying all over the world meant updating them, explaining the approach to this situation, and clarifying details. I worked on finding help for my kids and others on our team. I spoke to people who would be responding to the situation where I was and managing our care. Setting in place volunteers and assistance to make it through the next while.
I spoke to the other wife. Often staying in contact, sharing what we knew... The one place I could talk about how I was feeling and what thoughts were running through my head without worrying. Some of those talks were difficult. Discussing what if only one comes home... it looked like that might happen... how are you going to feel? Wanting to go over responses to different scenarios so we were prepared with open communication.
After the kids were in bed, I asked my volunteer to sit by my phone and computer and watch for any messages and call me immediately. Then I went to pray with each of my kids.
My daughter was still crying. "Mommy, what if he never comes home?" How do you answer that from a seven year old when it is quite likely that will be a possibility? I can't promise what I haven't been guaranteed. I settled with telling her we are going to trust God and wait and see. She still clung to my neck and sobbed, so I moved her to my bed where she could cuddle Daddy's pillow and fall asleep.
Number 3 was in his bed smiling and happy to hug me. I stood there looking at him wondering what is going on in his head... is he really ok or just pretending? So I asked, "hey, little guy, are you ok? Are you worried?" He looked up with his cheery little voice and said, "No, I'm not worried. I know that God is taking care of Daddy, so why should I be worried about it?
Oh to have his faith!
Number Two was a little harder. Of all the kids, he was the one who most questioned God. Why did He allow this? I sat with him a long time. He also asked if anyone had ever come back when things had gone wrong like they did here. I told him a story about another friend who did - the situation looked much worse, and he came home safely. I told him we will chose to trust.
When I got to my oldest, I was low on energy. How do you go through this four times... four kids who are deeply worried? (Well, maybe three - one was cheerful!) So I got to the oldest, and he is a logical thinker, a math man. He looked up and said, "So mom, tell me the way it is... what is the ratio of people this happened to who came back safe?" I smiled - got to hand it to him for looking at the percentages! I told him the truth, and restated that we will chose to trust, but whichever way it goes, we will be ok. He nodded with tears in his eyes and asked to be left alone to think.
My pastor phoned wondering about the next day. Would we come to church or did we need to be alone? I thought about staying home. Didn't know if I had the emotional energy to handle people. But then I thought about my kids.... We, I needed to be with people. We needed to go on. So we would go to church. I went over some details of what would be said and when with the pastor and then wished him good night.
I went back to the phone and computer - my two constant companions. The volunteers went home, and silence settled again. I should go to bed, but I could not. I sat staring at the screen. All was quiet.
Late that night, I got an e-mail from a friend asking what is going on - she had heard from somewhere something was up. Thank God for this friend. I had not talked directly to her since our firsts were still in diapers. Last year, her husband was killed in an incident on the road - sudden, tragic, senseless. She has four kids the same ages as mine. I told her, and she phoned.
This was the biggest blessing of the day - someone to talk honestly to. Someone who had walked the path ahead of me and done it well. We discussed how to handle kids, and she simply listened and responded with real sympathy and love that touched me. Halfway through, I felt awful - I had never told her I was so sorry about her husband! I said so, and she brushed me off, "Oh honey, I know you are sorry about him! But right now you don't need to worry about that... right now you need someone!" The love and care and understanding she gave me that night was a blessing. Then she turned to laughter, and we laughed and cried about stupid things that happened in our lives. I hung up after talking to her feeling like someone had held me and reached my heart.
I lay in bed that night again unable to sleep. Once I dozed for an hour or two, but most of the night, I sat watching chatter back and forth from people and simply wondering what was happening to these two men I loved way over there. Would I ever know?
The next day was the first day that wasn't going to be a holiday. There might be a chance someone might found out something.... So I sat awake watching for any thing.
Only silence. And then the morning sky streaked pink again - one more day not knowing where he was. This day we had to get up and go to church. Alone.