The most anticipated week of the year was upon us - our trip to the beach! I was in full preparation mode, slowly adding beach supplies to the dining room table throughout the week. Kids had their swimsuits packed and were eager for departure. The weather forecast was perfect. Life was good.
Then the earth started to shake just a bit. An ominous sign of things to come. Peter threw up Thursday while taking a nap. Mary, followed suit, after dinner. But they didn’t seem too bothered. Mary played on Friday like nothing was amiss. Peter slept more than usual but didn’t have anymore stomach issues, so we felt confident we were ready to go.
We left Friday night a little after dinner. Driving through the night is really the only way to travel with little ones for us. Dad does the bulk of the work through the night, while the rest of the car sleeps the journey away. At least, that was the plan.
A little south of Knoxville, around 11pm, I woke up to hear Therese throwing up. This wasn’t too big of a mess since she isn’t eating that much yet. However, then Mary woke up and she let it all go, poor thing. I couldn’t see it, but Cecelia who was sitting next to her started yelling, “It’s everywhere!” We pulled off as soon as we could. That poor gas station didn’t know what was approaching.
The gas station had a McDonalds, so I told the kids, and my cousin Max who had the privilege (?) of coming with us, to hang out in there while I cleaned up. I then stepped into the back of the van to survey the damage. I must admit, I was overwhelmed. Mary was still in her seat, totally covered in the carnage. C was right, it was everywhere. We even had a couple buckets in the car, Mary just didn’t give us any warning.
Just that morning, my confessor told me to see Christ in my struggles. I was doing my best to take these words to heart, but wasn’t feeling it. I called my mom and asked her to pray for me. Then I did what I had to do; clean as best I could with a couple packs of wipes and a half roll of paper towels. (Subpar cleaning tools to say the least!) When I was finished with Mary’s seat, I started on Therese’s. Thankfully, hers was not nearly so bad.
Fifty minutes later, the girls had a clean set of clothes on and were buckled back in their seats. Everyone was given a double bagged grocery sack with strict instructions not to miss should their stomach turn. I asked Tate if he thought we should stop for the night. He said, “We just have to keep driving. There is nothing else to do.”
So, on we drove. Soon C and Johnny were using their bags. Therese continued to throw up periodically through the night until I had no clean clothes for her and she had to wear some of Mary’s. Mary had emptied her entire stomach and more in Knoxville, so thankfully nothing further from her. It was a ride never to be forgotten.
We arrived to the beach thankful to have a bathroom and running water, but also with the creeping fear of who was going to succumb to the bug next. In the end, it would hit everyone, except Drew, Joseph, and James. On the bright side, it only lasted a day.
Despite this unfortunate and unforeseen malady, we still had a wonderful vacation. For those that were sick, they had a beautiful condo and beach view to get them through their day. They also had every hope that tomorrow would be better. By Wednesday everyone was healthy, praise the Lord!
I am sure you have heard the cliche; life is a journey. How very true this is. On this journey, do we savor the moments and see Christ in the good and the bad? When we hit our own Knoxville’s, do we throw in the towel, or drive on? Do we have friends we can rely on to encourage and pray for us. Are we willing to roll up our sleeves and do the work that is necessary? Even with subpar tools, do we trust that God will give us what we need to overcome? Jesus promises us He will always remain with us. This Sunday in our Gospel from John 14 He says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.”
We are not orphans for any part of our journey. We are loved. Christ remains. He goes on to tell us how to show our love for him. “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
One of the many things I love about the beach is how everyone stops and takes the time to watch the sunset. Who could ignore the beauty of the sun going over the horizon. Every one so different, every one just as breathtaking. And even though the light is fading from that day, we have every hope that the sun will rise again.
We must take the time to appreciate the moments. All our moments, good and bad, and give them to God. We are a people of hope and Christ, our hope, never disappoints. Wherever we are on our journey, look to see Christ beside you. You are not an orphan. We may not feel it, as I did not while cleaning that van, but in my heart I knew He was there. Knowing that gave me the strength and the will to carry on. What was the result of my work? We were able to continue to travel further on our journey and a glorious week at the beach with my family. Yes, it was so worth driving on.
I pray earnestly to God, that this life lesson is well learned. I hope not be humbled again on a long drive. (Although, I will tell you I will be better equipped in the future!) However, the cross would be worth the glory in the end should history repeat. JMJ