25: Prayer of a Soldier’s Son

25: Prayer of a Soldier’s Son

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Prayer of a Soldier’s Son

When prayers go up, blessings come down.

~Author unknown

Jake was supposed to be asleep, but I heard his voice through the fog of 2:00 a.m. fatigue. It sounded like he was calling for his daddy. I waited to see if he’d fall asleep again on his own. At thirty-six weeks pregnant, I didn’t want to get up for anything if I didn’t have to. Still, I realized as soon as I shifted in bed that I also needed to use the bathroom, so I might as well check on him. After all, he hadn’t called for his daddy since just after Steve left for Afghanistan several months earlier.

Jake and I had moved into my parents’ house to wait for his little brother to be born, due in the middle of Steve’s nine-month deployment — or, as Jake and I called it, “Daddy’s big, big trip.” Before every meal and at bedtime, Jake bowed his head and repeated, “Daddy safe, amen,” his own variation of the prayer for Steve that I’d taught him.

When I went to check on him, two-year-old Jake was standing up in his crib. In the dim blue light of night, I could peek in and see him before he saw me. He wasn’t crying, as I expected. He was saying his prayer for Steve — but he’d added something new.

“Fire! Fire! Daddy, fire! Daddy safe, amen.”

Jake repeated his prayer a few more times, and then lay back down and went to sleep without noticing me. I was more than a little frightened, and for a while I could only stand there, praying myself. Why was Jake talking about a fire? I began to shake. Was Steve in danger?

In the morning, Jake was smiling and content. He prayed for his dad before breakfast, but didn’t mention the fire again. Steve and I were only able to talk on the phone every few days, so it wasn’t unusual that I didn’t hear from him that day or the next. I remembered that a fire on a nearby forward operating base had made headlines several weeks before, when a burn pit had tossed flaming trash into an ammunition store and exploded, causing casualties. I combed through the news looking for any new reports of fires on American bases or outposts in Afghanistan, but didn’t find anything.

Two days later, my phone rang. It was Steve. He was sorry he hadn’t been able to call, but things in his area had been busy. He’d been out on patrol checking up on his platoons, plus there’d been a small fire on his company outpost. It wasn’t a big deal, he explained. It could have been bad because it had started when something popped out of the burn pit toward the ammunition — just like the tragic fire on the other base.

“It could have ended the same way, but don’t worry,” he assured me. “We were able to put it out right away, and no one was hurt.”

“When was this?” I asked, even though I already knew.

“About two days ago,” Steve said, and moved on. “So, how’s our Jake doing?”

~Christie Chu

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners