a perfect day

  • Mar 17, 2011
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I arranged the cookies

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while the boys rolled out dozens of breadsticks

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my sweet sister applied the grace notes with tiny bouquets

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Lizzy curled Zoe’s hair into princess ringlets while Mary danced and giggled in the background

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Gabe pinned on an Italian flag

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while another hung in the window.

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ready to go

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As we filled the pews in church, Erik asked, “Are you nervous for him? I can’t stop shaking.”

I nodded.

But as I looked around and back into the gym, I was moved by the friends and family who surrounded us offering love and support to Ben and to my entire family.

People are good, they are gloriously wonderfully good.

And Ben was perfect– poised and personable, funny and inspiring. We lingered in the lobby afterward, hugging friends, shedding tear and basking in the joy of the day.

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By the time we made it home, the kitchen was filled with friends and I was so busy slicing pizza, serving salad and embracing loved ones that I didn’t take a single photo until later, when the pace slowed down a bit. At least a dozen people brought food– cookies, salads, coconut cake– and I determined to be a better friend, to bring unbidden plates to every gathering. Ben was overwhelmed with good wishes, cards and kind words.

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Baby Darren offered a glimpse of heaven to eager arms.

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Sweet Elle shed tears, “I don’t like all these people in my Michelle’s house.” So I offered her refuge in my bedroom with Gabriel and the laptop.

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And as the day wound down, the boys gathered around baby Darren to laugh and share mission stories.

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Today, I’m the only one in the house.

Ben’s corner of the room he shares with Stefan looks just the same. His ipod and cell phone on his nightstand, a Jiggy stick at the ready and (of course) one of Erik’s Italian sticky notes. I need to cancel the cell phone today (Hans doesn’t want one yet) but I imagine I’ll simply leave everything else just the same until he comes home.

My friends have been so sweet and concerned– emailing and texting me for the past two days to make sure my heart is holding up. But I feel calm and happy (though not ready to get out of my sweats); I am constantly aware of my friend Melissa whose son didn’t live to go on his mission, or another friend whose son chose not to go. I know Ben is in the right place, that he’ll grow and serve having experiences I could never offer him at home.

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But as I look from his nightstand to the chest he made in shop last year, I spy his baby blanket tossed on top of his handwritten talk. He took the blanket to college but he can’t, shouldn’t take it on his mission.

And I think I’ll give myself permission to sit and cry– just a little.

March 16, 2011
March 21, 2011

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16 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ang

    March 18, 2011

    What a beautiful day! It makes my heart happy to see these pictures. Happy and wistful. Much love to you.

  2. Reply

    Today's Gift

    March 18, 2011

    A wonderfully perfect day with perfect pictures to accompany it.

  3. Reply

    Shelah

    March 18, 2011

    awww! So sweet. It was an absolutely perfect day!

  4. Reply

    Tracy

    March 18, 2011

    So lovely. What a beautiful family. In every way. Hugs to you my sweet friend. Please cry. I am. 😉
    xoxo

  5. Reply

    Cath

    March 18, 2011

    You’re entitled to a good cry. This post makes me feel like I journeyed through the day with you. I’m so sorry I missed it. We’ve had fevered kids and babies since Saturday, but you’ve been on my mind. I love every detail of this post. xo

  6. Reply

    Kerri

    March 18, 2011

    So so beautiful. Glad you’re feeling the sweet comfort of having a son do just the right thing at just the right time. Love to you all.

  7. Reply

    michelle

    March 18, 2011

    Handing you a virtual tissue….

    I love you.

  8. Reply

    Annie

    March 18, 2011

    Exactly, lovingly perfect. I kept thinking about you on Sunday and departure day. Thank you for the glimpses. xo

  9. Reply

    Rachelle

    March 18, 2011

    Crying in Minnesota for a family I don’t really know. But, my heart is a little broken over the letting go process. I know it must happen… but.

  10. Reply

    stace

    March 18, 2011

    you inspire me to take pictures of everyday moments. Sometimes it seems like such a hassle, but they tell such a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Reply

    chococatania

    March 18, 2011

    Your blog is so totally inspiring. and I’m excited for Ben. My husband served in Milan. He loved it. Missionaries don’t have the same kind of “success” there as in other places, but it was still an amazing place to serve a mission.

    Anyways–beautiful blog, and thanks for being such a great example!

  12. Reply

    Chelle

    March 18, 2011

    Michelle, it was such a beautiful day. When Ben finished his talk, Chris leaned over and said “that was one of the most inspiring pre-mission talks I’ve ever heard”. (I agree)

    Heartfelt, inpsiring, humble, honest and courageous. He’s ready.

    p.s. I also realized that you will have potentially sent off FOUR missionary sons before I get to my first. I will consult the local expert when it’s my turn to be the missionary mama. xo

  13. Reply

    Tasha

    March 18, 2011

    The first week is the hardest – you feel like there is a big, gaping hole in your life and in your heart. But you learn how to carry on and adapt to letters instead of texts and phone calls. Pretty soon the time just flies by, and before you know it, he will be home. But, of course, the first week is the most difficult – and I think that’s just the way it should be. The pain and the adjustment allow us to see the hand of God.

    Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers!

  14. Reply

    Rachelle

    March 19, 2011

    Okay, visiting your post again and want to say that the words of Chelle & Tasha just comforted me. Big sigh. I’ve never met Ben, but I’m proud of his speech and feeling hopeful that you will be okay and that his experience will be fabulous and life changing. This “letting go” of other people’s kids is tough, let me tell ya. Ha.

  15. Reply

    Tifani

    March 20, 2011

    It looks like a positively perfect day. Please give yourself time to cry, my friend. Even when you know great things are coming for him, you’ll still miss him, right?

  16. Reply

    Selwyn

    March 20, 2011

    Love you so much.

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