Late Saturday afternoon, the boys built a fire on the creek ice out behind our house to burn up branches from the trees they felled that day. As I washed the dishes, I watched them from my kitchen window. I saw Hans sitting alone at the edge of the darkness on a small pile of wood near the fire and I hurried with the dishes so I could go sit with him, realizing I might not get another chance to do so before he left us for wherever life would take him. I felt sadness, like he was gone already, and I missed him even while he sat there silhouetted by the fire, just a stone’s throw from the house, a young man alone.
I considered leaving the dishes until later, but this was my last task and then we could all finally relax and spend some time together before our trip the next day. Maybe it was better I did not go out there to sit with him. I like to believe, with so little time left, the Lord perhaps met with Hans there by the fire and spoke something to his heart. My presence might have been an intrusion. Anyway, he soon came to the house and my last chance to sit with him by a fire was lost.
That evening, the last evening I would have with Hans, our last evening with our three boys together, we sat by the wood stove in our cozy little log house. We watched needles fall from the Christmas tree, not imagining Hans had less than forty-eight hours to live. The fire down on the creek ice went out during the night.