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I’ve done a lot of stupid things as a mother. Far too many regrets in both word and deed (and thought) that I cannot take back.

If I’m being transparent, I’ve said words under my breath that if my children had dared utter, would’ve resulted in soap on their tongues. As a young mom with infants, if some of my worst-day thoughts were posted on Facebook I would be on the news.

I am the worst of sinners and have apologized often to my sons for my shortcomings. I have asked the Lord countless times to forgive me and change me, to soften me and help me be kind.

My goal is never to inflict hardship or pain onto my children (aside from necessary and controlled discipline).

But on August 9, 2012, I hurt my kids.

I hurt my four children on purpose. I inflicted pain on them that no mother would dare dream of.

I daresay that I traumatized them for life. One day, when they are grown, I will ask each one of them what they remember of that moment.

On August 9, 2012, my children woke up blissfully unaware that their whole world was shaken. They likely stretched and yawned while squinting at the sunlight peeking through the window. They didn’t have a clue that their mom was hours away, crumbling in agony beyond words.

They did not know they were fatherless.

They had no clue that the next time they would see their daddy would be in a casket.

Their mom was 4 hours away and had 4 hours until the devastating news had to be shared.

The last time they saw their favorite man was in the driveway as they buckled into the car holding sandwiches Dad made them. A quick hug and “I love you” was the very final exchange.

And so I had 4 hours to absorb the numbing surreality that my husband, the father of our children, was dead. He was lifeless on earth, yet more alive than ever in heaven.

I could not, and cannot, wrap my head around this fatal fact. How does one process unexpected death? What does it take to be real, concrete, believable?

4 hours began counting down as someone informed me that my children were on the road with Grandpa to come home. They were clueless yet confused.

4 hours became 3, became 2, became 1. And I wanted to vomit, to hide, to rewrite truth.

How will I tell them? What do I say? This is too much. Someone wake me up from this horror.

Taking the advice of my friends Dan and Becky, I would tell all four boys at the same time that their daddy had died. That’s what psychologists say is best, and I wanted to lessen the damage any way possible.

With a home filled with people, I sat alone on our bed…now my bed. Waiting. I had only minutes until I would intentionally break four hearts.

I heard a car pull up.

Doors closed.

Voices carried.

And I begged God to make all of this go away. God, just bring Aaron back right this instant like you did with Lazarus. Don’t make me do this, God. I am not strong enough. I can’t comprehend this myself, how can I possibly expect little children to?

The front door opened.

The buzzing of conversation hushed.

I held my breath in desperation, shock, and fear.

God, please, help me. Now. Help me now. Right this second. I need You. What do I say? How does this work? Is all of this real? Give me words, share Your wisdom. Don’t make me do this.

The doorknob turned. Please, God.

The door opened and I saw these 4 sweet boys I loved dearly burst in with typical energy and force. How differently I viewed them compared to yesterday.

I smiled as best I could, knowing it was time.

“Why are we home, Mom? Why are all these people here? What’s going on?”

Praying without ceasing, I calmly asked our 8-year-old, 7-year-old, and 4-year-old twins to sit down on the bed with me and to not speak.

God, I just can’t say the words. I physically am incapable. It’s too hard. They are too young.

I was shaking and unable to even open my mouth.

Say it. Just say it. It’s real. They have to know. Tell them.

“Boys, I need to talk and I need you to be silent and listen.”

God, you still have time to reverse all this. Strengthen me. Prepare them. Thy will be done.

And so I hurt my kids.

I hurt my four children on purpose. I inflicted pain on them that no mother would dare dream of. I had no choice.

“Boys, I love you so much. I have something important to share with you.” Deep breath, just say it. Jesus, be near.  Be fiercely at work in our hearts.

And He was. The Lord was with us.

And the piercing words poured out, each one said in complete disbelief.

As I intentionally broke each child’s heart, God stayed close. I know He was most certainly with Aaron as he exhaled that final breath, and He was with us in the bedroom too.

As I squeezed each one of our sweet sons, as if squeezing on behalf of their father, God stayed close. If He had allowed this crushing pain, He surely would keep us in His grip.

Our friend Chris shared this song with me and I’ve bawled over it as I have fumbled to put thought-to-word here for you, reader. I hope it ministers to your soul which likely aches for some reason today.

This article originally appeared on Debbie Wilkins Baisden.com

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Debbie Wilkins Baisden

Debbie is a mom to 4 boys (Paul, Brad, Andrew, and Joshua, or “PBAndJ” for short). Unexpectedly widowed in 2012, Debbie’s world was turned upside down. Clinging to God, her stay-at-home mom days in suburbia now demanded a paying job. Instead of returning to the classroom, she decided that Chapter 2 of life meant pursuing her passion of all things fitness and nutrition. She enjoys helping women look and feel their best. Debbie remarried in 2014 and lives in North Carolina.

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