Yesterday morning we got up early to get ready to participate in the Memorial Day parade for our town. We have two Cub Scouts in our family at the current moment and the Cubs traditionally ride on a float in the parade. Kevin who has the role of Cub Master was up till 12pm the night before lashing up the trailer they borrowed with tree limbs to make a guard rail for the Cubs to keep them from falling off the float while they waive to the crowds and sing songs.
I’ve always loved parades and for this one I usually take whatever little ones are not in the parade and find a spot along the parade route to watch while Kevin chaperones the older boys on the float.
I love sharing parades with my children. I remember being a little girl in Hull, my small coastal home town, and sitting with my mom clapping with her in time till my hands hurt as she sang along with the marching band to When the Saints Go Marching In as the parade passed by. I get choked up watching the community participate in honoring those brave folks who put their lives on the line to protect us.
I am trying to get in the groove with Scouts a bit more now that ~P is getting a little less “infant-ie”, so I asked Kevin if he thought it a good idea for myself and the three little ones to march behind the float. He thought it was, so I quickly got us packed up. The plan would be for me to push the double stroller with 3 year old ~O standing on the kiddie board attached to the back of it and our two oldest boys would don their Boy Scout uniforms and help out with the younger cubs on the float.
Nearly all packed and ready to go I called to 11 year old ~K to come and hold the baby for me so I could finish getting 2 year old ~G dressed. ~K came out looking bedraggled and confused. He hadn’t woken up yet! I know we wouldn’t have left him, but I sure thought he had already been up! ~K used to be such an early riser, now edging toward the teen years that seems to be changing… He quickly got ready and we were out the door.
The parade was great. I adored waving to the crowds and spreading good will, seeing all the little ones, and the friends from all different facets of our lives that were sprinkled all along the parade route. The Cubs did a great job up on the float and I got to walk along with my husband/Cub Master looking all dapper. With motorcycles doing tricks behind us and a marching band laying the beat ahead, the Cubs sang their scout-ie tunes all the way endearing themselves to the crowds. It was a fun time.
We made it back home and had some lunch. The afternoon plan was to look at a used 12 passenger van we had found over at a local car dealership. When ~P came along we officially outgrew our mini van. Taking two cars locally hasn’t been too bad, but longer trips are a bit more challenging. So we have been on the look out for a new van that would suit our needs.
We had found what appeared to be the perfect van: good price, not too high mileage, one owner, certified pre-owned with a warranty, etc.. While Kevin was off with a fellow scout leader returning the borrowed trailer from the parade float I prepared for us to head over to the dealership. I looked at financing options, printed out the vin report, the blue book value on our current van, etc. The older boys went over to our neighbors house to let out their cats as they (our neighbors) were away for the weekend. Three year old ~O wanted to go with his brothers, so I assigned one of the older boys to watch him.
The day went on. The boys came back from the neighbors house and played out in the yard. As children came in I continued to check on ~O to make sure he had someone out there with him. We planned to let the little one’s miss their nap today so we could all go to look at the van together.
The phone rang. It was the salesman I had talked to the day before about the 12 passenger van. He was very kind. He wanted to catch us before we left to let us know that they had sold the van this morning. I got choked up with him on the phone (I hate doing that), and thanked him for letting us know. He said he had a 15 passenger van (too big) but would keep an eye out for another 12 passenger van.
I had a good cry about it. We have found in the last 7 months that there are not a lot of good, used, 12 passenger vans in a small state like Vermont. This one had all our criteria and would allow us all to drive together again. It was disappointing.
I headed down stairs to let the boys know we wouldn’t be looking at the car today. A few boys asked to play a math game on the computer, I said yes. The only kids left outside were 3 year old ~O now and 9 year old ~C. Kevin came home during this time and about 10 minutes later ~C came in. I ask him where ~O was. He said he didn’t know. Flags went up. I asked the other boys. No one knew where ~O was. I’m incredulous as I had been consistently checking in to make sure someone was with him though I hadn’t had my direct eyes on him for the last hour or so.
Kevin and I went outside and started yelling for ~O. No answer. I didn’t see him in any of the usual spots. I went back into the house and yelled at the boys to get out there and look for their brother. They scrambled and spread out screaming his name and looking all over our 3 acres. I took 7 month old ~P and 2 year old ~G and put them in cribs to keep them safe and headed outside to search. Feeling helpless and kind of numb I turned to God praying his prayer, the Our Father and then to his mom. I sat on a rock in the warm sun and prayed to Mary using her prayer, begging that we find our baby.
Everyone was out back searching frantically, it seemed so odd for him to wander off. He really was generally quite good about the boundaries of our property. I called my friend who lives across the street and told her we lost ~O. She and her 10 year old daughter came over to help. I was just about ready to call the police thinking that perhaps someone had taken him when ~C came running to me telling me that they found him.
~O had been deep in the woods about 20 feet down a fairly steep rock face. 9 year old ~C and 13 year old ~V had heard his voice and followed it to where he was. I went up our path and met Kevin holding ~O as he brought him out of the woods. ~O looked mad and awkward, not knowing how to interpret the attention he was getting. He didn’t want to be hugged, but I hugged him anyway and cried and cried giving thanks.
I thought he was gone, and he wasn’t. Kevin said he wouldn’t let his mind go to any dark place before he searched every avenue but mine did.
All I could think running around looking and screaming for ~O was what good is a 12 passenger van without him. My baby, my son… It was terrifying and horrible.
I thanked my neighbor and her daughter for coming over and gave her a long hug.
I felt raw. We brought everyone in the house, I locked the door. I just wanted everyone in together, safe. The boys were all shook up too by the experience. Kevin and I hugged. We said some prayers of thanks to God together. After a half hour when we all had settled some we decided to put ~O and his little brothers down for their naps.
I let some of the older boys go back to the math game and Kevin went out with ~C to get some hay bales at the store so we could set up a target range for the bow and arrow set he got for his birthday. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, but I knew I had to get some fresh air.
I did something I haven’t done in years, I grabbed a quilt and went out into the front yard. It was a cool day, but sunny. I laid out the quilt on the gentle slope of our front yard by the dandelions, put on my big sun hat and grabbed my sunglasses from the car. In jeans and a short sleeved sweater with a book in hand I laid down and started to read. I needed to tread gentle on my spent soul.
I read a few pages and then laid my head down and fell asleep, I woke up a little while later, read a few more pages, and then fell asleep again. The sun was just the right temperature, warming, comforting, but not scorching. The babies were safe asleep in the house, boys happy playing video games, Kevin out making our 9 year old feel special with a project just for him.
I could breathe again. I spent the afternoon there on the lawn in front of our house. Eventually I sat up and just looked around, at the wispy clouds on the blue sky, the way the cones were developing on the big pine in the middle of our yard. I gathered the mail from our mailbox across our dirt road and checked on the archery range Kevin and ~C had built.
Over and over throughout the afternoon I prayed and gave thanks.
When the little ones woke up around 5pm we gathered all the kiddos and took them out to eat. Kevin had some money given to him by a parent of one of the children he teaches in religion. It was for the express purpose of a dinner out for our family. We decided to use it tonight. We took the kids to a local restaurant featuring pizza, pasta, and other family friendly food.
I just wanted to do something as a family and celebrate our togetherness. The parking lot was full, but we were able to get a table in about 15 minutes. The kids behaved great and gobbled up all the food presented to them. The boys enjoyed the free refills for their soda and how they were able to mix any concoction from the fountain that they wanted. Normally I may gotten a little frustrated with ~O’s persistent need to stand on his chair, but this night instead, I gently and kindly asked him to sit down each time. I was just so thankful to have him with us.
After dinner we took the kids with us over to Home Depot. Earlier in the month our stove died and we had a new one delivered about a week and a half later. Well that one ended up having a defect with the front glass that we didn’t notice until after the delivery folks left. A new oven was ordered to replace it and that arrived a few days ago and guess what? It had the same defect.
After that we were told by Home Depot to pick out any oven we wanted. As we could go a bit higher in price this time, it seemed to make sense to look a little more closely at what range would suit our family best. We got some good ideas and the boys behaved well, though I was happy to leave behind the seemingly irresistible to children, opening and closing of refrigerator and oven doors. It was funny as we left to read the lips of the folks we passed by in the store as they counted the number of kids we had. I always feel like we are in a parade when we are out and about as a whole family.
Once we stepped outside the store 7 year old ~R mentioned the amazing sunset. I called to the boys: “Laverty boys stop and look at the sunset!”. So we all stopped and admired the sky. We made jokes about what it looked like to the 4 oldest boys who are color blind. But we all enjoyed the brilliant, round, blazing sun as it was going down, glorious in its pink, orange, red, and whatever unknown colors the older boys saw. ~R said “That’s why we came to Home Depot tonight, to see THAT sunset!”
I think he was right. Another gift from out God.
Since we have needed the use of two cars for whole family outings, I have typically driven the van with all the kids in it and Kevin drives the little car. But on this night, each time I got in to drive ~O yelled at me that he wanted daddy to drive. Normally I would just say: “I understand that you want daddy to drive and I’m sorry, but I’m driving.” But this night I couldn’t. I submitted to ~O. I just wanted him to feel at peace, I wanted to feel at peace. So I drove home in the little car alone, following my family in the van up ahead. Radio off I, driving in silence, I gave thanks to God and his mum for my little/big family, for the sunset that night, for the peaceful calm of an afternoon on a quilt warmed and comforted by brilliant rays, for sons dedicated to finding their brother, for every second of this undeserved life.
Today is the celebration of Pentacost. It is known as the birthday of the Catholic Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came down upon Mary and the Apostles empowering them with the courage to preach the Gospel. There were Jews gathered from all over, in Jerusalem at this same moment celebrating a Jewish feast. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit the Apostles were able to speak to each person in their own language and 3000 were converted to Christianity and baptized that day. The Church, the Christian community as it were, began to grow.
The Holy Spirit made sure that those people on Pentacost could hear the word of God in their own language.
Yesterday God used a community filled parade, a missing son, a 12 passenger van that suddenly felt pointless, a warm quilt, and a stunning sunset, to draw me closer, to hear in the language of my heart that He is there with us through it all.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone and thank you to those who have willingly risked their lives in the service of our nation!
I struggled with whether or not I should write about yesterday, but chose to in the spirit of communion with all of you and how things do not always turn out the way we would like. I am so thankful that ~O was found, but am well aware this day could have been quite different and even if it had I believe God would still be with me through that difficult journey and any other journey’s that life has in store.