It's Called Grief

"Daddy?" Dean called out in a loud whisper after he stepped into the hallway of the small rented cabin.

"In here, son," John answered from the living room couch in a voice that he hoped sounded steady.

Dean stuck out his tongue as he concentrated on carefully pulling the door closed to the temporary bedroom that he shared with his little brother Sam, missing seeing John quickly wipe away tears that he vowed to never let either of his boys see. Dean didn't think about why his father was awake in the middle of the night, sitting in the dark. Didn't know that John rarely slept at all anymore, the nightmares unending and his missing his wife unbearable.

John switched on the light on the nearby table and watched as his four and a half year son padded into the living room and over to him, still grasping the framed picture of his late mother that he never let out of his sight. John could now see that Dean had been crying as well and pulled him up to sit on his lap, wrapping his strong arms around his precious son. His and Mary's son.

"You should be sleeping," John said into the top of the boy's head before kissing it, wondering if Dean had been having nightmares too.

"You're not asleep," Dean said defiantly, causing John to smile.

"You're right. But I'm big and you're little. If Sammy wakes up, he'll be scared if you're not there," he answered.

Dean nodded as he turned to look up at his father, his eyes filling with tears.

"But can…can I ask you something first?" Dean asked.

"Of course," John said, noticing that Dean's bottom lip had started to quiver.

"Can I die of hurt?" Dean asked as a tear rolled down his cheek.

"What do you mean?" John asked, suddenly alarmed. "Where do you hurt?"

"Here," Dean cried as he put a small hand to his chest and then to the picture. "I want Mommy back! I miss Mommy! I don't want her to be dead!"

John sighed, his heart breaking for his eldest son, doing his best not to start crying again himself. He pulled the picture out of Dean's hand and turned the boy around to face him.

"It's called grief," John explained. "When it hurts so much to think about someone who's gone."

"I want it to go away! I want Mommy back! Please!" Dean begged, tears flowing down his little cheeks now. "Can't you make her all better? You saved my teddy bear with duck tape when Mr. Arnold's dog chewed his head off!"

"Duct tape," John gently corrected his son as he pulled Dean against him and began to rock back and forth, pondering what else he could say to help him understand something that someone so young shouldn't yet have to understand. "People are different than your bear, son. I…I couldn't save your mom like I did your bear. Sometimes...sometimes not even all the kisses in the world can make it all better. I wish that I could at least take your hurt away, but I'm sorry. I can't do that either. All I can say is that you will get through this. Someday it won't hurt so much to look at her picture. I promise."

"How?" Dean cried.

"By loving her. And...and talking about her. You know, Sammy's not going to remember anything about your mom," John answered, hoping his answer was making sense to his little boy.

Dean pulled away from his father's chest and looked at him with confusion in his eyes.

"He won't 'member anything?" Dean asked in disbelief.

"No. But you will. It'll be one of your very important jobs as his big brother. You can also tell him that your mom's with the angels now, the very ones that she always told you were watching over you and Sammy," John continued.

"They're watching over you too!" Dean insisted desperately as he clutched at his father's shoulders. "They are! THEY ARE!"

John gently hushed his son and pulled him against his chest again.

"It's okay. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. Nothing will ever hurt me or you or Sammy," John reassured him.

A few minutes later, a low wail sounded from the boys' bedroom. Sammy was awake. John made a motion to get up, but Dean quickly squirmed out of his arms instead. After Dean wiped away his tears and made his I'm a big boy face that had always so much amused Mary, he turned back to his father. Without a word, John handed Dean the framed picture. Dean snatched it out of his John's hand and rushed back to the bedroom. John was not surprised when a moment later, the crying stopped. Alone again, John switched off the light. The assault of painful memories returned as the never ending questions ran through his mind. Could he raise the boys without Mary? Could he face doing anything without her? God, he hoped so. He had to. Her life would not go unremembered…or her death unavenged. That was a promise that he would not break either.

Thanks for reading and reviewing this short story while I work on chapters for my other stories!