Through the Eyes of a Child
Barbara Wilberforce sat by the fire in the parlor with her sewing. It was a cold day in November and predictions of a harsh winter had been made. But it wasn't only the weather that was being forecasted.
Wilber's colitis had taken a turn for the worse, and he still preferred not taking the laudanum because of the children. But that caused her dear ones to see their father in pain, which was the last thing she wanted them to see. Upon occasion she could get him to take his medicine, but this was only a few successes out of dozens of failures.
The House of Commons had called for an evening meeting and Wilber had yet to return. It was already nine o'clock at night. But Barbara wasn't so worried about that. He had Billy with him and he wouldn't allow anything to happen to Wilber.
No, she was not concerned. But she still waited up for him as she always did. She had her children, the servants, and all the animals to keep her company. And it was at this time that one of these entered the room.
"Liam, what are you doing out of bed so late?" Her oldest son, William Wilberforce the Younger, toddled into the room with bleary eyes and climbed onto his mothers lap. She put down her sewing on the side table and hugged her son close.
"Is Daddy home yet?"
"No, my darling. But he should be home soon I think. Now why are you up this late?"
"I had a bad dream…about Daddy."
"Care to tell me what it was about? If you tell someone your bad dream then it won't come true."
"I dreamed that Daddy didn't come home. Then I saw him lying in a box. His face was very pale and he wouldn't open his eyes." Liam's own eyes started to brim with tears and his mother nestled him closer.
"Oh, William. You don't have to worry about that. Your father will come home and he'll live for many years to come, just you see."
Little William sniffled and whipped his eyes. "Why id Daddy always so sick?"
Barbara thought about how to explain this to a four year old. "Well, my sweet heart, your father's mission on Earth is a very fantastic one. His spirit was made for it, in fact. And sometimes his spirit gets so excited that it just wants to burst with joy; to break free and rejoice. And when it does that, it makes your father as ill as he is because he needs his spirit in him if he's to do his work. Your father's spirit is far to wild for this Earth and it wears his body down."
"I believe so, yes. Now are you feeling better?" He nodded. "Then off to bed with you." She took Liam into her arms and carried him up to bed. He was so tired that he was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Barbara pulled the covers up to his little chin and brushed a few stray hairs away from his face. "Sweet dreams my little one," she said and placed a soft kiss on his forehead.
Less than an hour later her promise to her son came true. A coach pulled into the driveway and its weary passenger climbed the steps up to the door, where his wife awaited him.
"How did it go?" she asked.
Wilber sighed and gave Barbara a hug and kiss. "The same as ever. Everyone has their minds made up and there's no changing them." They walked inside and Wilber shed his coat and hat.
"Maybe next time, then," Barbara consoled.
Wilber laughed softly. "I wish I had your optimism. How are the children?"
"All asleep and in bed. But Liam had a nightmare about you. He dreamed that you died. When he came down to tell me he asked why you were always sick."
"What did you tell him?" Wilber's face was full of concern.
"I told him that your wild spirit wanted to escape its earthly bounds when it got excited."
"I guess that's true enough." He sighed. "To see the world through a child's eyes," he mused. "It's amazing what they can see. Is he asleep now?"
"Yes. I think he would like it if you said goodnight, just to know you're home and well." They walked up the stairs to their eldest's room. He was sound asleep, no nightmares plaguing his sweet face.
"I don't have the heart to wake him. He just looks so peaceful." So instead he bent down and kissed his son on the forehead as Barbara had done. "Good night Little William. I'm here. You have no need to worry. And even when my spirit leaves me, it will always be with you."