Terri closed her mother’s door as quietly as she could. Mamma was sick…very sick…and had been for many months now. She went to her own room, just down the hall from Mamma’s sick room, from which she could hear if Mamma woke up coughing, or was moaning, or even talking very quietly to herself as she sometimes did very late at night when she thought that everyone else was asleep. Or was Mamma talking to God, as Terri sometimes imagined? That thought might have given the child comfort but it didn’t. Terri knew what she did not want to know. In her heart she knew what she would not say even to herself: that Mamma was dying.
She tried to sleep. How can a child sleep knowing what she knew? Some people would think that Terri would be frightened at losing her Mother. That was not it. For perhaps the first time in her life Terri’s thoughts were not at all for herself or even for her loss, but only for her mother and her daddy.
Sleep came very slowly that night, more slowly by far than the tears that Terri would not let flow lest she lose control of herself and hurt inside even more than she hurt now. Besides, Terri told herself, Mamma might hear. If Mamma heard, than her mother would be even more sad. Terri would not do that to her. But at last, the child did sleep just a little, waking up with every strange sound in the house. Deep in sadness, Terri did not know whether to pray to God or not, for God was taking her mother from her…To a better place, the Reverend would say. For the first time in her young life Terri had to worry if the minister was right. How can anyone be sure what happens after someone dies?
“Terri!” a voice called gently and the girl opened her eyes just a little because it was so small a voice that she wasn’t quite sure she wasn’t imagining it, especially since it seemed so near even though so very faint.
“Terri.” In the dark the child thought she felt a hand…her mother’s hand…gently stroking her hair back from her eyes and touching her cheek. “You must sleep. You need sleep, Terri. You will have a very busy day tomorrow and must wake up early.”

“Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
When you wake, you’ll have cake,
And all the pretty little horses.”

Her mother’s voice though faint and gentle, was also strong. Terri thought it very strange that she was closing her eyes again with her head in her mother’s hand, for Mamma was in her own room down the hall.
In the sky above her bed the stars were brighter than ever she
had seen them. It was as though she were in the desert. It was like the starry sky over Bethlehem on Christmas cards that had come in the mail to her mother every year from her many friends in places far away; friends who always thought of her at that time of year. There was not a sound from the room down the hall.
So it was that Terri finally found sleep in the arms of her mother. She never told anyone about the “dream” for she knew that it had not been a dream. Death does not come, as people often say. A good person goes to it when that person sees it, for it is as natural as getting out of her sick bed when she has regained her strength; not to leave, but to go to her child’s room and soothe her baby with a lullaby, a lullaby that she will always sing to her when the grown child needs it all the hard days of her life.