Carrying Death in His Hands Part II

To read Part I of this short story, click here.

Death in His Hands Part II.

The walls of their home danced with shadows as Uriah and Bathsheba sat by candle light and rehearsed the story of their individual lives until they moved in step once again.  Uriah, said very little about the fighting that had taken him away from, Bathsheba, many months ago.  Occasionally she would ask a question that moved closer to the memories of combat, to which, Uriah, would respond by questioning the King’s decision to call him home, away from his men, away from his duties.

David & Uriah by Rembrandt

Bathsheba, could also not bring herself to mention the unseen battle she was engaged in just a few months ago; a battle that led to her surrender, led away like a captive to the sinful desires of a King whose eyes fell on Bathsheba one day as he walked the balcony of his palace instead of the fields of war.  She recalls every detail of that night with a strange mix of fondness and regret. She remembers all of the moments along the way to her King’s bed when she could have stopped, whatever the cost, she could have stopped….why didn’t she stop?

As they continued to talk, Bathsheba felt the tension draining from her body. With each kiss, each touch, she was reintroduced to the man who years ago took her hand and brought her to his house.  The hour was late, and so she rose, took the hand of her husband, and led him to their bed. Uriah first walked willingly behind her, then stopped suddenly, as though he recognized the moment.  “Bathsheba….I….can’t” he said quietly. “Tonight, as I sit by your side, my men, my brothers, are sleeping under the stars, burying the dead and preparing for another battle.” “How….how can I live with you in this house as though I were unaware?” Bathsheba stared into her husband’s eyes with great longing….but even greater admiration.  Uriah, leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead, lingering for just a moment to breathe in the fragrance that was unique to his wife. He then turned, moved toward his bag, and spread out a bed on the ground.

“I’m pregnant, Uriah” Bathsheba whispered as she watched her husband prepare for bed. “I’m pregnant with King David’s child….I’m….I’m so sorry”.  She could not speak the words any louder, just as she could not foresee the series of events that an evening with the King would set in to motion, and the devastating consequences for everyone involved….

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Carrying Death in His Hands Part I

After a month away, I am back to writing. I decided to start my blog again with a retelling of a familiar (maybe too familiar) story in the bible.  You can read the story in 2 Samuel 11 by clicking here.  

Carrying Death in His Hands.

Uriah, stood in the doorway of his house….his bones ached from exhaustion, his mind tortured by images of battle, his senses taunted by the sights and smells, and familiarity of home.  He could see her by the open window, rays of afternoon sun flirting with her black hair that hung like curtains around her neck. Just the sight of her frame brought back memories of a life outside of war, and filled Uriah’s eyes with tears as the longing of his heart found expression on his face.

David & Uriah by Rembrandt

“Bathsheba” He whispered through parched lips.

Bathsheba’s hands froze in the dough she was kneading. She looked up but could not wrestle her body to face him. “Bathsheba?” Uriah spoke firmly this time, leaving no doubt she could hear him. She turned toward him, eyes pooling with tears; she wiped the remnants of dinner preparation on her gown as she bounded toward him. Uriah dropped the sack in his hand and ran to hold her. The force of his hug consumed her and sent them both stumbling across the room. He pulled back from their embrace to study her face again. Bathsheba’s eyes were a mixture of colors and textures; splashes of joy and hope; streaks of shame, shades of regret.

“What’s….what’s wrong Bathsheba?” Uriah asked, confused by the mixed greeting in her expression.

Bathsheba wrestled her face into submission, forcing the corners of her mouth to rise against their will until she presented him a smile. “it’s….it’s just been so long, and….I wasn’t expecting you….I have nothing ready, nothing prepared for….” Uriah placed his hands on each side of her face, and guided her lips toward his.  “I’m home….with you….everything is….perfect”.

Uriah embraced her tightly. Bathsheba knew that everything was far from perfect. The child growing inside of her, was now a constant reminder of the double life she had entered into. As she held her husband, she could see the walls of the King’s Palace behind him, invading the open window of their house, dividing the couple joined in embrace, and conquering a love she once believed was as strong as death.

She needed to tell him….he needed to know the truth….

Fish Funerals and Talking Death to Children….

The Cosby Show Fish Funeral

My children’s fish, Shimmer, died the other day after spending approximately 13 days with our family….it was a rich, full life.

None of them seemed too upset by the whole thing. They were more intrigued with the manner in which we were going to dispose of him.  I can still see their three little heads peering over the edge of the toilet bowl, faces reflecting in the tranquil waters, waiting for me to empty the cup that held their new friend.

I asked the three of them if there were any final words they wanted to say about their fish….they said no. I asked if any of them would like to say a prayer….again they said no. Finally, one of the three spoke up and said….”just drop him in the toilet”.

So I did….shimmer circled rapidly and then disappeared.  Our three children marched out of the bathroom and picked up with the batman adventure this “funeral” had interrupted.

It’s hard for a parent to know how much to say about death to their children.  One big reason is that the term “death” in their world  does not (for our children) come burdened with the feelings of loss, hurt, pain, and sadness….not yet.  I know some day this must be a part of their life experience, as it is for all people of all ages.  But right now they seem as innocent as the garden before humanity’s awful choice gave us such words as “death”.

Ever since the “funeral” they have been asking more questions about getting older, and about death.  My wife and I are trying our best to speak clearly and honestly about the subject.  That is until the other night, when our six-year-old was lying in his bed and I was saying good night.  He was asking me why I have “white hairs” starting to appear on my head. I told him it was because I was getting older. You could almost see the connections taking place in his brain. His voice then got quiet, and weak, and he asked me, “when are you going to die?”

“oh….not for a long, long, long, time.”

My eyes started to well with tears.  It was true….well mostly….kind of…..In that moment I felt so small, having so much less control over life than I pretended to have.  My answer reflected my hope and prayer, but not necessarily the reality. I realized I am prepared to face the reality of death at any moment and in every aspect of my life, except when it comes to my children.

So I kissed his forehead, and gave him a big hug. He laughed about the stubble on my face scratching his cheek.  We said goodnight, and I left the room. Walking down the hall, I repeated the lyrics to an old song I had heard many times in the bible:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90: 12

That’s where I’m at….this is not a fixed post with a typical opening, stating of problem, and solution to problem. This is just the confession of a young parent, who realized something about my life from watching a Beta fish disappear into our toilet.