will you keep me safe?

Will you keep me safe?

Eddie asks this often of his dad and me. If he hears thunder or sees something “spooky” like the green pants with nobody in them, the Grinch, or the creepy Hunch.

He says it often at bed time since stories that have pictures of eyes with no body attached are often read in the dim light of his room. His little face will turn towards me, his worried eyes will find mine, and as he asks, his hand will slip into mine.

It’s a simple question, but he has asked it since he has had the ability to ask it.

In the dark of his new Big Boy room when I was hugely pregnant with his baby brother, “mom? Will you lay by me?  Will you keep me safe?”

Or in the middle of the night after a bad dream he will cry for his daddy and ask him, “Daddy? Will you keep me safe?”

His third Halloween he saw people dressed up in scary masks and costumes. He cried and clung to us, “Will you keep me safe from monsters?”

Our answer us always the same: of course.

With those words, he settles down. Sometimes we have to hold his hand or lay by him in bed or both, but he settles down because he believes that we can and will always keep him safe.

I want to keep that promise.  I want to keep him and his heart safe.

But this world is broken, and I know sometimes it will get by my best efforts to protect him.


Today (Sunday) Eddie and I drove together to meet Cortney and Charlie and the rest of our family at a church.  We had a service to attend.

A memorial service for my niece, Arabella.

Eddie knew the baby in Aunt Liz’s tummy was sick.  We prayed for her every day.

This past Tuesday as I put Eddie to bed, I whispered to him, “buddy, remember how baby Bella in Aunt Liz’s tummy was sick?”

“Mom. I know. I colored her a picture and we tell God about her.”

“That’s right. Well she died today, honey.”

“In Aunt Liz’s tummy? Or did the doctor’s take her out?”

“In Aunt Liz’s tummy.  Aunt Liz and Uncle Cody are at the hospital right now to get Bella out.”

“And she is died?”

“Yup.  Do you want to read a book about heaven tonight?”

“Sure mom. Sure I do. My Papa is there too.”

Thanks to a wonderful friend, we had a nice book about heaven to read. Eddie didn’t have much to say, but he asked later in the week if we could read a heaven book again.

Today, on our drive to the church, he and I talked about how people would be very sad today.

“Why mom? Because Bella is died?”

“Yup. It’s sad to lose someone you love.”

“But she isn’t lost. She is in heaven. Why are we sad? Papa is there too.”

“You are right bud. You are totally right. But even though we know Bella isn’t sick anymore and she is with Papa, we still get sad sometimes because we miss them. We wish they could be with us. The best thing to do when you are sad and miss someone is find your family and get lots of hugs and cry as much as you need to and tell God that you are sad.  So that is why Cody and Liz wanted us to come to their church today.  We are their family and they need our hugs.”

“Sometimes I want you to hug me when I am sad, right mom? Like when I am scared.”

“That’s right, buddy.”

“So everyone is going to be sad and crying?”

“Maybe not the whole time, but yes. You will see lots of tears. And people will want lots of hugs.”

He was quiet the rest of the way.

Later, when I cried during the ceremony, he climbed on my lap and whispered, “I love you, mom.”

He is still too young to feel the loss of someone he never met.

Yet his innocence makes heaven so simple.  They are happy there; why should we be sad?

I know I can’t protect him forever about the brokenness of this world, but I can try to plant hope in his heart that will sustain him when his mommy and daddy just cannot keep him safe from the darkness.

But if you’ll excuse me, I will go ahead and live in denial about that day because my heart just can’t take it this week.

2013-06-12 19.26.00

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. My heart is with all of you.
    You’re a good Mom. Really, really good Mom. xo

  2. This is the beauty, the simplicity and the pain. And, while you won’t be able to protect Eddie or Charlie forever, you are arming them with faith, and resilience for when you can’t.

  3. I read this…

    “Maybe not the whole time, but yes. You will see lots of tears. And people will want lots of hugs.”
    He was quiet the rest of the way.

    …and I imagined him sitting there, thoughts in his head about “I can do this. I can help them.” which I’m certain he did. And I teared up.

  4. This was so painful and beautiful at the same time.
    Much love and many many hugs to you and your family, Katie!

  5. I cried through this entire post. God speed to you and yours!

  6. I’m so, so sorry, Katie. Your family is in my thoughts.

  7. Deborah said it perfectly. And that face. Oh, that face!

  8. The pastor of our old church told us once that he mourned at births and rejoiced at funerals. That was so hard for me to understand. But kids get it. I think because they are closer to heaven.

  9. Oh Katie, this is beautiful.
    My heart hurts for your whole family.

  10. I am so sorry, Katie. I am thinking of your family.
    I know what you mean about trying to give them hope in their hearts – I try to do the same so that it is there for those difficult days.

  11. oh, eddie. ((())) for all.

  12. I love how you’re able to put things into words that Eddie can understand at his age. It’s so good to see how you comfort each other. Love to you. xo