"You know, there's somebody up there."
We were in school then, and sometimes we'd just spend the summer nights lying on his roof and looking up at the planets and stars until we fell asleep in each other's arms. We'd lie there and sometimes he'd say, "You know, there's somebody up there." You mean aliens, I'd ask, you know, with the green skin and the U.F.O.s and the phasers and whatever else. He'd say no, silly, he didn't mean aliens, he meant God, and he'd laugh, you know, but it must have hurt him, me not knowing God and all that. He always went to church and he never swore and he never got drunk with the other guys and we didn't have sex. I asked him why, and he said it was because he loved God. Did he love God more than he loved me, I asked, and he didn't hesitate for long before he said "Yes." But you know, I liked him that way. I liked that he didn't try to touch me or ask if he could see me naked like the other guys would say to their girlfriends. I loved that he loved God more than he loved me.
After we were through with school, he went to the university north of our town and I went to the university south of our town and we'd only see each other every couple of months, but every time we did he'd kiss me when we said goodbye and he'd tell me to remember that there was somebody up there. I'd miss him, but while my friends had boyfriends that cheated on them and my roommate got pregnant and dropped out and one girl in my French 101 class eloped with the Spanish professor who was seventeen years older than she was, I'd get texts from him that said "I miss you" and "I love you" and I knew that they were the truth.
He graduated with a Master's in Bilingual Education and me at the top of my class with one in Sociology. I went to his graduation and he came to mine and after mine he asked me if I'd marry him and move to Arizona. I said yes, yes I would, because I knew that I loved him and he loved me and even though we hadn't had sex, I knew that I'd move across the world just to hear him tell me "there's somebody up there".
When we had our first baby and I held her little hands for the first time, and when I felt her warm breath and looked into her big blue eyes, I thought that he might be right, maybe there was somebody up there that I couldn't see, who had given our little girl to us.
He took the kids to church and I came too and I prayed and I started to believe. I joined his church, got baptized and all that. I guess I didn't really know there was somebody up there, but every time he said it, I could feel something inside me that told me he was right. I trusted him. I believed that he knew the somebody that was up there, and that someday I'd know too.
When our little girl had turned seven and she was killed at school by a man with a gun, and I knew that I'd never see her blue eyes again or hear her laugh or play with her on the lawn or build pillow forts or help her put a Band-Aid on her scraped knee, I cried and he held me and cried with me and he said that there was somebody up there taking care of her for me. I couldn't believe him because if somebody was really up there, that somebody wouldn't have taken her away from me.
I think it hurt him when I stopped praying and believing and going to church. He loved me and he wanted me to be happy and he wanted me to believe but I didn't want to believe. He stopped telling me that there was someone up there because every time he did I'd cry and sometimes I'd hit him and some nights I made him sleep on the couch while locked myself in the bedroom and cried. He kept going to church and he kept praying and every time he did I'd leave the room because I hated it. I hated that he loved God more than he loved me.
After our last baby was born, I heard that our little girl's best friend from school was graduating high school as valedictorian and I cried because I knew that that could have been my little girl wearing that cap and that cape and giving that speech to the school. He sat beside me and let me cry on his shoulder, but he didn't tell me that somebody was up there like he used to, and for some reason, that made me cry even harder.
When we were getting older and our second daughter was about to go to college, he had a sudden asthma attack at work and I got a call from his boss. We didn't even know he had asthma, he had always been very healthy and he only had a light cough every once in a while. I drove to the hospital as fast as I could make the car go and I was hoping, but not praying, that everything would be alright, but when I got to the hospital and by the time I got to the room he was in he was in a coma. I sat next to him for hours that seemed like weeks and I held his hand so tight and when I kissed it I could taste the tears that fell from my eyes onto his fingers, and that night as I fell asleep with my head on his hand I wondered why somebody up there would let something like this happen to someone who was only forty-six and who had a family and who went to church and who loved God as much as he did.
For weeks he didn't wake up and the doctors knew he was dying but they couldn't fix it and he would probably never wake up, but I stayed at his side and I loved him and cried enough that I could fill oceans and our kids would come and cry with me and we would fill the oceans of a hundred worlds together, and they all knew that somebody was up there, but I didn't.
One day, even though he couldn't hear me, I talked to him for hours as the tears ran down my face and sometimes my voice choked so much that I couldn't make words. I asked him if he remembered when we were young and we'd lie on his roof and look at the stars, and did he remember when he'd send me so many messages when we couldn't see each other and kiss me so lovingly when we could, and did he remember how we felt when our little girl was born and how small she was and how little her hands were, and did he remember all the birthdays and all the church ice cream socials. And, I asked him, did he know what he said to me, when we watched the stars and when we kissed and after each child was born and on every birthday and at every ice cream social? Did he know what it was? And he opened his eyes and he looked at me and he smiled and he said "there's somebody up there."
And then when he closed his eyes for the last time, and I sat by his bed loving him so much, and the tears ran down my cheeks, I knew that he was right.
There is somebody up there.