I cannot tell…

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

It is a Friday evening in June.

Rick is at youth group, which means that the boys have me for bedtime instead of daddy.

Bear sits in my lap – squirming, wriggling, and giggling. The other boys all lie in their beds: Angus in the top bunk, Pete in the bottom bunk, and Jamie in his toddler bed. The lights are out, the blinds are closed, and it is almost completely dark in the room.

On impulse, I decide to sing I Cannot Tell. I sang it constantly to Cameron when I was pregnant with him, and it was one of the songs we sang at his memorial. To me, this is Cameron’s song.

“I cannot tell why He whom angels worship, should set His love upon the sons of men. Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers, to bring them back, they know not how or when. But this I know, that He was born of Mary. When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home, and that He lived at Nazareth and laboured. And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come…”

It is a slow and haunting song, filled with the most wondrous lyrics. Even though my parents are waiting downstairs, I take my time. I pause between each of the verses and give emphasis to every word, every note.

The song seems to captivate the boys. They are all silent as I sing.

“I like it,” says Pete, afterwards.

“You sang it so nicely, it made me sleepy,” whispers Angus.

Jamie makes an indecipherable sound, his face buried into his pillow

I smile widely in the dark.

“Thanks, boys. It’s time to pray now. If you know the Lord’s Prayer, then say it along with me.”

Immediately, Angus, Pete, and Jamie’s voices all pipe up.

They all say the Lord’s Prayer with me.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…”

As I listen to them stumbling over the difficult words yet praying together with such fervour and familiarity, my heart bursts with joy and awe and love and gratitude all at once.

For a moment, I cannot believe that these beautiful boys are mine. That this is my life. And that this is my story

Afterwards, I smother them with kisses and embrace each of them in turn.

Bear runs on ahead to his bedroom, while I pause at the door of the big boys’ room.

“Goodnight, boys. I love you all very much.”

And then, in my best Giggle and Hoot voice, “See you in the morning. Hoot, hoot!”

  • alexa said:

    So evocatively written ... and I know the lilt of this hymn well. Your young ones are so lucky to have a Mum who cares so much, and can share the poignant with them as well as the joyful.

  • Chrissy said:

    I had to look the song up to jog my memory. The first YouTube video of this song was not altogether lovely. "Ugh! That's terrible! Why did she sing that song?" my son asked, referring to the video. "It's an old hymn," I answered. "Well he sounds like a her." Him/hymn confusion.

    Just wanted to comment that your story has helped me so much. I have four boys and recently miscarried a girl. I started following your blog before my story turned sad, but I can say it must've been a God thing that I ever found your blog. Cameron's life and story has been a salve to some of my wounds. Thank you for sharing him with the world.


  • Trish said:

    I love this Ronnie dear! Xo

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