The Promise


Kenny slouched on the sofa with his head down. He was folding and refolding a paper in his hands. When the door opened, he didn’t look up. He knew it was his mother. She had just finished burying his fish, Mike.

“What are you doing?” Mom asked as she hung up her coat.

“Nothing—just making a paper airplane.”

Mom went over to Kenny. She ran her fingers through his soft brown hair. “Want to tell me what you’re thinking?” she asked.

How can Mom understand how I feel? Kenny thought. Mike was just a plain old fish that his friend Mike had given him when he had moved. That’s why Kenny had named the fish Mike.

Mom patted Kenny’s head and kissed him on the cheek. “I’ll have dinner ready in a minute,” she said.

Kenny watched his mother with his eyes half raised, not caring what she fixed for dinner. He felt sick and laid his head on the arm of the sofa and closed his eyes.

“Ready for dinner?” Mom called later. “We’re having tacos.”

“I’m not hungry,” Kenny answered, keeping his eyes closed. He opened his eyes when he felt his mother sit down beside him.

“I miss Mike, too,” Mom said softly. “I enjoyed watching him swim through his bridge and hide in the shell.”

“He was a good fish,” said Kenny as he sat up. “He helped me remember Mike and all the fun we had. Why did he have to die, Mom?”

She paused for a moment, looking perplexed. “I don’t know, Kenny,” she finally answered. “All living things have to die. Maybe it was Mike’s time to die.”

“Will I die?” Kenny asked, looking up at his mother.

“Yes, Kenny,” she said, “someday you’ll die too. But only our bodies die. Our spirits live forever. Do you remember what we talked about in family home evening just after Grandma died?”

“Yeah, Dad told us that Jesus died and His body was buried. But Mary went to the place where He was buried and saw Him. He wasn’t dead any more!”

“That’s right, Kenny. And because of Him, we will all live again. If we’re good, we’ll go back to Heavenly Father, and we’ll be happy.”

“Is Mike happy?” asked Kenny.

“Yes, Kenny, I think he is,” said Mom. “Heavenly Father created Mike too. I’m sure there’s a place prepared just for him.”

“Will I see Mike again?” Kenny asked, sitting up straight. His eyes shone with excitement. “Just like you said I would see Grandma again someday?”

Mom took hold of Kenny’s hands and said, “Kenny, I can’t answer that. But Heavenly Father knows how much you love Mike. Everything will turn out for your good.”

“Do you promise?” asked Kenny.

“Even better than that, Son,” Mom replied, “Jesus promises.”

Kenny thought for a minute. He picked up his airplane and turned it slowly in his hands. “You know, Mom,” Kenny said, looking up with a smile, “I think Mike would want to know about his namesake. Will you help me write him a letter? But let’s eat first. I’m hungry!”

[illustration] Illustrated by Julie F. Young