The early morning sea breeze dries out our sodden hair and clothes. The reality of our perilous situation hits home when Arabella, my daughter, stirs from her slumber.
Arabella rubs her eyes, untangling herself from her younger brothers, Adair and Lewis, and looks across the sea. My inquisitive daughter turns her head and smiles with the morning look of a child who is just delighted to see you.
The smile evaporates suddenly, and she whispers, “Where is Duke?”
I believe in honesty with children. Pretending we don’t live in a world of life and death is one of the greatest pretences of them all. Children must understand the basis of existence.
“Duke is on his way to heaven, my angel. Will you join me and say a short prayer for him?”
With her two younger brothers sleeping soundly, Arabella shuffles her legs into the cross-legged position, clasps her hands, and we recite the first three lines of Psalm 23: A psalm of David, together.
‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.’
In the silence which follows, I hug my daughter, hiding tears streaming down my face.