There was soft chatter throughout the house. You could hear forks scraping against plates and creaking of wood as the Wilson clan walked around and greeted those they hadn’t seen in years. “I should go check on him,” Elaine whispered to Joe. Elaine walked up the stairs slowly and with each step she whispered a prayer under her breath.
“Lord, give me the strength. Give him the strength. Give us the strength.”
Vann was sitting on his bed, fully clothed, with a blank face. He had only showered and shaved for the first time in 8 days today to bury is wife.
Vann remained silent. Vann remained frozen. Vann remained numb.
Elaine sat next to him and put her arm around her first-born, and tears began to stream down his face.
“Mama, I’ve sat here for days trying to understand. I don’t do anything to hurt anyone. We go to church every Sunday. I prayed, no, I pray for her more than I pray for myself. I built this house with my bare hands for our family. I’ve never cheated. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I do everything right. I know we never know God’s plan and I know I’m supposed to trust in Him, but..Lord, I– Mama I have two little boys. They need their mama just like me and Joe, Jr. needed you.”
Vann continued to speak and Elaine held her son tighter. “You know? We had plans. We were going to retire out in Charleston by the water. She loved the beach, you know.”
“Yes, I know,” as Elaine rubbed his back.
“The boys were gonna grow up and be somebody. We were gonna have another. A girl. Mama, I know– I can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what, son?”
Vann stood up and began pacing with his head down. It was something his father did when he was troubled.
“I cannot go through life without my wife. I need her to survive. I ne..”
Vann fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably. Elaine held her baby on the floor and continued to pray with him throughout the night.