Marilyn's mother still sat at the family's modest kitchen table. She stared, hardly blinking, at the back of her left hand without noticing the hand or the table cloth on which she rested it. She failed to notice the smell of the fresh coffee her husband had made before he left to look for his daughter. She had long since quit noticing any other smells or hearing the usual sounds of life in her house. The dark wooden paneling on the walls, the humm of a passing car, the warmth of the sun as it sneaked across the window of the room. All evaded her senses at this point as she stared blankly with her head down.
Twenty-eight years old with pleasant features and a matriarchal confidence usually found in women much older, she now felt so many feelings internally that it seemed to block out any external stimuli. Her daughter had been missing for nearly two full days and her initial concern now included feelings of guilt, wrapped in panic and now starting to subsume a repressed sense of anger. She did not want to feel angry and tried to explain to herself why she should not be and yet she seemed to be losing that mental self-debate. She let her mind argue with itself of the justification for her being mad.
She, of course, was not mad at Marilyn or really anybody else for that matter. Like a crisis usually does, the situation with Marilyn had prompted her to think about the big questions of life. She now thought of not only the "wheres" and "whens" of Marilyn's disappearance but also the "whys". Why would God do this to a precious child? Did God actually do this or as their preacher had said, did God just allow such things but not cause them? If God allows evil things to happen then it must be for some reason and if it is for His reason then is that any different than causing it to happen? This course of thought led her to feelings of enmity between her and "The Almighty".
Her well-worn Bible lay on the table next to her. She was as accustomed to using it as she was the salt shaker on the table next to it. It had given great comfort many other times in her life as well as good news and practical information on the best ways to live so she instinctively picked it up from the spot where she had her daily semi-quiet times. Between making meals and tending to household business she tried to always make time to read a few passages daily and then talk to God about her family and friends, asking His blessings and wisdom for them all. This time she just needed some questions answered.
Just the act of opening it up to the Book of Job and seeing her own handwriting in the margins brought a distinct peace and a certain level of understanding to the situation that surprised her with its swiftness. She realized that she knew some of the answers and also that some things had to be accepted with faith. She may never understand how prayer works but it fell off of her tongue in humble appreciation, "God, thank you for taking care of my sweet Marilyn." She paused and added with what may have been the slightest of smile, "and Teddy too."