“Mommy, Mommy,” Kevon cried, running to her. Alarmed, Inez reached down and picked him up.
“What’s the matter, Baby?” she asked.
“Grandma said that Daddy’s in Hell because he killed a man.”
“Go and tell Auntie Hilda goodbye while I speak to Grandma.” She put him down and he ran off.
Inez turned to face her mother. “Mama, how could you tell him such a thing?” she demanded.
Her mother pursed her lips. “Well, it’s true, isn’t it? Your good for nothing husband was found guilty of homicide and sentenced to jail time, which in my opinion, wasn’t long enough. And now he’s dead. He died behind bars because he was a criminal and because he’s a criminal he’s in Hell where people like him belong.”
“Joe was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after he accidentally drew his pistol instead of his stun gun and fatally shot an unarmed man. He got a two year prison sentence. While he was in prison, he accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior. He died in prison from a heart attack before he could be baptized but I believe that like the thief on the cross, he’s saved.”
“You can believe what you want. It still doesn’t change the fact that your husband killed somebody.”
“He served his time, Mama.”
“He was no good. You could have married somebody better like Terrence.”
“Mama, I didn’t love Terrence. I loved Joe. Why didn’t you ever approve of Joe? Was it because he was a cop?”
“It was a cop who killed your father.”
“Mama, it was a white cop who shot Dad and you know it. Joe was a good cop. It was just unfortunate that he accidentally shot someone.”
“Cops are all alike. They are trigger happy. We’re better off without them.”
“Mama, I’m going to take Kevon home now. If you are going to upset him again I won’t bring him around anymore.”
“You’re going to deprive me of seeing my grandson?”
“Yes, if you’re going to tell him terrible things about his father.”
“That boy is the only good thing that came out of that marriage.”
“Mama, I mean it. If you want to see Kevon again, you have to lay off Joe.”
“Fine. I will hold my peace. I won’t mention that man any more.”
“In spite of what you think about him, Joe was a good husband and father. And Jesus died for him too.”
Her mother didn’t answer. Instead, she turned her attention to the television set.
Inez sighed and went to get Kevon. Soon they were on their way home. It was a late Sunday afternoon. Three weeks before the new school term started. “Are you all right, Baby?” she asked.
He nodded. “I’m better now. Auntie Hilda gave me some candy.”
“Make sure you save some for later and tomorrow.”
“I will,” he promised.
“I’m sorry about what Grandma said.”
“Is it true, Mommy? Is Daddy in Hell because he killed a man?”
“No, Baby. Daddy didn’t kill the man on purpose. It was a terrible accident. Daddy was very sorry about what happened. He had to go to jail because that’s where people have to go when they do something wrong, even if it’s an accident. Daddy’s not in Hell.”
“Where is he then?”
“He’s in the grave. That’s where all dead people are. They are sleeping in their graves until Jesus comes and raises the ones who believe in Him like He did with Lazarus. Then, those who are raised from the dead along with the those who are still alive will go with Jesus to Heaven.”
“What about Hell?”
“Hell isn’t a place where bad people go. It’s something that will happen here on earth. The Bible teaches us that it is a fire which God will send down from Heaven. The fire is called Hell fire and it burns for a long time before it goes out. You don’t have to be afraid of it as long as you love and obey God. The good news is that one day you, Daddy and I will be together again forever.”
“I can’t wait to see Daddy again.”
“I know, Baby. Neither can I.”
For the rest of the drive home, they sang songs, thanking and praising God for His goodness and Jesus for His love.
We’re all sinners, every one of us. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t – Jerry Falwell, Jr.