I arranged the cookies
while the boys rolled out dozens of breadsticks
my sweet sister applied the grace notes with tiny bouquets
Lizzy curled Zoe’s hair into princess ringlets while Mary danced and giggled in the background
Gabe pinned on an Italian flag
while another hung in the window.
ready to go
As we filled the pews in church, Erik asked, “Are you nervous for him? I can’t stop shaking.”
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.
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.
Baby Darren offered a glimpse of heaven to eager arms.
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.
And as the day wound down, the boys gathered around baby Darren to laugh and share mission stories.
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.
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.