We stood on a green hill on a brisk day, two small sisters in coats, singing two-part harmony into a tiny grave. Our preacher dad had asked us to sing the one about children and their heavenly father at the burial of a baby, stillborn to a couple named Story.
But this was a story I couldnâ€™t crack. How could a baby be born with no breath or life, how could a baby be dead, but still, born?
I looked at the motherâ€™s eyes as the two of us sparrowed on about how life and death would never severâ€”I knew it meant separateâ€”children from Godâ€™s strong arms.
It was nice to get paid for singing, but I didnâ€™t want to ever be dead and flourishing in some faraway holy courts. Each night I prayed uneasily that If I died before I woke the Lord would take my soulâ€” God suddenly materializing in the dark room, like a frightful thief in the night, to spirit some unseen part of me up and away.
I liked my real home on the prairie. And I wanted my story: all babies born unstill into their fathersâ€™ arms, everyone mounting green hills unwounded by grave dirt, all of us singing an old, old story and breathing, breathing, grace all around us like fresh air.