Moving On

 

September 2003

My Stories

Granner

Putting on the Ritz

Granada and Sevilla

Amsterdam

Tuscany and Umbria - 1

Tuscany and Umbria - 2

Driving in England

Dwelling in England

A Dozens Reasons

In the Hamam

Istanbul Greece Diary

Pearl Harbor Team

Old Girl

Paris

Provence

Grandpa's Cabin

Pay-It-Forward Latte

England and France

N. Italy - 1

N. Italy - 2

N. Italy - 3

N. Italy - 4

Lessons from 4 Corners

Mexico

Going to the Dogs

Don't Embarrass Me!

Letter from Siena

Arrivederci Roma

Joining the Matriarchs

Living History

Newlywed Game

Chaos Theory

Zach on the Road

Huckleberry Season

Stanley & the Sunbeam

I Dare Say

Middle School Relay

Grad Party

Yellowstone

Moving On

Newlywed Couches

Visitors

Old Faithful Inn

Snowbound

Sweet Potato

Mother Bear

Two Blondes in Iberia

Revisiting Spain

Curly's Truck

Old Buildings

Chelsea's

Split Seams

All Nighter

Talent Show

After we got the news, we hugged and cried and prayed. I called Luann, our church receptionist.

  "Alex’s memorial service is scheduled for September 23rd," she answered.

 With an achy heart, I checked the calendar. "Zach moves into dorm" and "Jim starts management course in WA." Jim and I conferred, immediately concluding that Zach needed to attend his friend’s memorial service. Furthermore, Jim couldn’t get out of his course. My head spun. How ever could I guide Zach through his first funeral--a very painful funeral, and his first time moving away from home--all in one day, by myself?  

 I had the boys pack the car the night before. (Zach’s roommate, Gino, stayed with us the better part of the month after his family moved to Florida. In an unusual reversal, the parents moved away while the college student stayed home.) Early yesterday morning, the last minute packing tornado raged. Zach stormed upstairs. "Who stole my bible?!"

 "Did you look under your bed?" I asked. Oftentimes Zach leaves his bible on the floor next to his bed after late-night reading. Maybe it slid underneath during the packing frenzy? Jim and I couldn’t get irritated at our sometimes-irritating boy this time. We giggled. The bible was under the bed.

 Zach and Gino’s friend, Kerry, arrived, offering to help move. In the bright sunshine, I led the way to Corvallis in my overloaded car, the boys following behind. I got some time alone. I thought of Alex, already enrolled at U of O. Alex should be moving today, too, not having his memorial service. My eyes grew wet. Oh, how was I going to do this?

Then I started thinking of big, sweet Kerry driving the car behind me. Later I told him he was my angel for the day. I thought of how this beautiful weather simplified the moving process. I recalled how the lost bible episode had lightened our mood. I got the message:

"I know this is a very hard day for you, but you can do it. And I’m sending you little helps to make it easier. I care about you and love you."

I decided to pay attention and start looking for more of these blessings.

The OSU campus buzzed with freshmen and freshmen parents, but we found a cheerful parking attendant and free, available spots. Wilson Hall’s check-in helpers chanted Zach and Gino’s names in a goofy effort to remember them.  The boys smiled in response, their shoulders relaxing. The head R.A., Melinda, carried a walkie talkie and a bright smile. Melinda attended Sprague and Zach thinks he recognizes her from Salem Alliance three years ago. The boys encountered many other familiar faces in the halls, some of friends they didn’t realize were living there. Zach and Gino opened their door to a room in the singular remodeled section of the dorm.

We unpacked, then soon prepared for our return to Salem. Zach had to tell his floor R.A., Josh, that they would miss the dorm meeting that evening. "I have to go to my friend’s funeral."

My heart ached a little at this focus back to the reality of the day. Josh made arrangements for a meeting later to cover what they’d miss. Then he paused, looked at Zach, and said softly, "I’m really sorry." What tenderness from a complete stranger.

Kerry and I drove cars north, each with a boy who fell asleep before leaving Corvallis’ city limits.

Alex’s service was incredible. Some of you were there; the rest of you should get the audio tape. I’ll just say that Barbara spoke with the wisdom of someone who knows. She confronted the loss head-on, including the fact that Alex should be going off to college with his friends. She chronicled Alex’s deep faith; he spoke infrequently of it himself, but Barbara helped speak for him last night. We heard a message of hope and assurance of all things eternal.

I sat in a row full of teenagers with Zach and Annie close by my side. We used up every bit of my stash of kleenex. Zach allowed me to hold his hand the entire time. We started to mend.

This morning we returned to OSU with the boys’ computers and a few other items I realized they’d forgotten. Like earplugs. And soap.

Waiting for the elevator at Wilson Hall, I read R.A. Josh’s biography on the bulletin board. "Interests: Musician and Theologian." This just may be public university-speak for something wonderful…

On our way to buy textbooks, we noticed a courtyard table with some very attractive young women and a sign reading, "Campus Crusade for Christ." I told Zach I’d pretend not to know him if he wanted to stop by. They gave him a free NIV bible and an invitation to a barbecue on Friday. Zach had been talking about returning home on Friday to see friends. Now he’s talking about BBQ.

At the bookstore, Zach grew restless. "I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but suddenly I want you gone--now!" He grinned.

I told him that didn’t bother me one bit. On the contrary, I was delighted. I left him at the curb with a quick kiss and a bag of books. On my drive home, my eyes stayed dry. I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but my son gets to go to college.

I could do this. I did do this. And I’m still counting the blessings.