Stand Down

IMG_1584We were all in such a state Friday that when his mum texted me this picture of our five-year-old grandson asleep and ‘armed’  I felt a literal stab in my heart. The words accompanying the text: “He turned on his light and fell asleep on the floor with his stick. Protecting the house, he says.”

Last week had so much woe in it. The moments like the one I first had on seeing message make only a small example. At the same time though there was also joy in our house:

My husband came home  after four days away. And our daughter Carrie, the mother of this little boy, came home to her family. (She and my husband David were together on a business trip.)

And most iimportantly these two new parents, as much a part of our family as the children we ‘made,’ were at ast allowed to leave Brigham & Women’s Hospital here in Boston where they were held on lockdown on that awful Monday with their newly-arrived babe.

Here are some pictures of that joyful homecoming  (Oh! and I should probably  add that 30 minutes after I first got that text about this little boy sleeping with his weapon, his mom texted again to explain that he sleeps with a stick every night in his self-imposed role as ‘family protector’. He knew nothing of the events transpiring in Cambridge and Watertown.)

Below here are some images:

First, the note the brand-new parents wrote to the staff at Brigham & Women’s followed by images of them at their house, which was decorated by  two loving friends.

goodbye to brigham & women's

Here we see the first of thousands of ‘carseat extractions’ followed by the actual homecoming:

first time extraction for VHB

crossing the threshhold

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“Papa’ seemed like an old hand at this already when Carrie and I went to visit them near week’s end.

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and here finally is ‘Aunt’ Carrie, holding her new niece for the very first time..

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Joy abounding!

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The Anguish, Again

Back Bay MagnoliasMonday was so lovely here in that way so much like the weather on September 11th. I suppose that thought came back to us all as we looked on images of blood fountaining all around the Finish Line.

Within minutes we all discovered we couldn’t make phone calls, whether on cell phones or landlines. The Boston.com site crashed so there was no news there. Thank God for Facebook and Twitter.

My firstborn child is in Florida this week along with her dad, my husband David, as well as another person from the company they both work for. She got through to me via text. “Is my family OK?” is all it said. (This is her family here.) She couldn’t get through to them.

That’s how it was for everyone with someone in Boston Monday as in anguish we looked on those images, wondering who were the poor unfortunates from whose bodies life and health both were so violently torn.

It was the same question we had on September 11th.

The planes all came out of Boston’s Logan Airport that day, you’ll remember. When I called David at work, he told me that three of their people flew out of Logan that very morning. The agonized question on everyone’s mind: were any of their plans the ones that hit the towers?

They learned the answer when the company’s travel agent called sobbing. He knew that the nicest man in the company was on Flight 175. His name was Bob Jalbert and anyone who knew him said the same. Here‘s his obituary.

September 11th happened on a Tuesday. The next day Bob’s son called David, and asked him to give the eulogy at the memorial Mass. American flags filled the funeral home. there and in the church the atmosphere was heavy with grief. We were still so in shock over the events of that awful day we reacted with surprise at the end of the service when the priest came down front and said, “Please. Take the flowers.” For there was no body and there was no grave.

What a thing it was for my David to be the one asked to stand and speak about his friend. He is a quiet man not given to public utterance. I imagine he might say that standing before that weeping assemblage to speak of his friend was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. What an impossible task to sum up the life of a person. What a burden. What a privilege.

Looking out at the signs of our slow New England spring I keep asking myself: Who are the people who will speak for these newly dead and wounded. And what can they say? What ever can they say?

This is Bob, glowing as he did all the days of his life.

JALBERT

Times Like These

On days like the one we saw yesterday it’s hard to know what to write, if, like me, you blog every day. Do you go for something light, to comfort people, or look it in the face? I mean the fear, the panic, the sudden loss of control you feel when all the phone lines go down as ours did within minutes after the explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

‘Keep calm and do your work’ they say. That’s a challenge now for us all.

My personal moment of panic came when it suddenly hit me that our daughter Annie works right there on Newbury Street.

I tried to call her cell. No Answer.

I tried to call her office. No answer.

I could picture her wandering out onto the street to watch people come in; oh could picture her…..

But no. Her company takes the day off with all the thousands of people milling in there. She got lucky maybe.

But what would I do, what would I do if these pictures were the last I would ever take of her, as she smiled on Easter, as she sat on our bed with her sister’s baby?

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Three families will wake to that anguishing thought again this morning : the realization that they have taken their last photo of that loved one.

May God bless those families. May God bless us all as we try to heal from this last event.