The Most Beautiful Crowd (of Six)

Carol BoveeYou probably wouldn’t call them a crowd. Six people doesn’t make a crowd, does it?

But my girls and I have always called them “the crowd on our front sidewalk.”

We had taken my four-year-old son to the doctor expecting to hear about anemia, and instead had called my husband to come quick because Andrew was crying blood. Shortly after that we received the news of Leukemia and when we requested to take our girls home before going to the bigger hospital we were informed that if we were going to do that, they would call an ambulance. So Randy and I said quick goodbyes and he raced with Andrew to Doernbecker Children’s Hospital and I drove home with the girls to pack for Leukemia.

I had called one friend from the hospital parking lot. The friend who’d been talking with my husband when I called. A nurse and a teacher. The wife of one of the nurses on duty in the ER when we arrived. I knew she’d understand. She put us on the prayer chain immediately, explaining things to people so that I would not have to.

Forty-five of the longest moments of my life passed in a weirdly silent car, my two girls in the back braving a question every now and then. My mind whirled with new reality and desperately tried to form a plan of action. After a time I gave up thinking and just maneuvered my car through the curves blinking back tears, feeling very alone.

But then, there they were. One of the most beautiful crowds I have ever seen in my life. A little knot of people standing awkwardly at the end of my sidewalk, watching my car to turn into my drive. Shuffling their feet, talking quietly together in the twilight, they waited. I opened my car door into warm waiting arms that squeezed tight and a whispered prayer drifted past my ears. Hands helped my girls out of the car and shepherded them into the house. As I babbled details and plans that weren’t even clear to me, sympathetic nods and smiles told me I was okay. I distinctly remember wandering in circles in the house and finally blurting that I did not know how to pack for cancer.

One friend took my girls to their bedroom and helped them pack while another readied her car to take them to grandpa and grandma’s house. A third started a load of laundry because somewhere in my litany I whined about not having clean clothes for the girls. A fourth took Andrew’s suitcase from my numbed fingers and told me to go pack for my husband and myself as they would take care of Andrew’s stuff. While I was stupidly packing, this little group decided I should not drive myself the four hours to the hospital in the middle of the night and had elected a driver for me. She was already there, gas tank filled and ready to go when I came out of the bedroom.

That was almost ten years ago. I have never forgotten that little crowd on our sidewalk. Neither have my girls. Whenever I feel alone I think of that little group and know that no matter how tough things get, there’s always a little crowd that is willing to listen to my rambles, enfold me in their arms, take care of me or my family and whisper a prayer in my ear.

There is no better crowd in the world!

I’m joining up with Lisa-Jo Baker at Five-Minute Friday.  Today’s prompt?  Crowd. To join the fun and stretch your writing muscles, click the link.
Five Minute Friday

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  • Wow, Carol! Teary. What a beautiful crowd indeed. So thankful for the way God was present with you through that group. Wow!
    Becky Daye recently posted…In the Midst of the CrowdMy Profile

  • Sue

    Definitely made me cry…it is a beautiful thing when friends and family know what you need even when you don’t. I truly believe that God holds us in his hands using friends and family. I remember, when my daughter was sick, receiving a call or visit or meal just when I needed it most. So glad you had a great support system through something so difficult.
    Sue recently posted…Five Minute Friday – “Crowd”My Profile

  • Wow, Carol. This is incredible. When I got to this line after all the chaos and fear you described, I felt the tears well:
    “But then, there they were. One of the most beautiful crowds I have ever seen in my life. A little knot of people standing awkwardly at the end of my sidewalk, watching my car to turn into my drive…”
    Thank God for those knots that hold us together when we are undone. Such beauty in community, these hands and feet for you and your precious family.
    (By the way, I’m guessing from the hospital name that you are in the Portland area? I am in NE.)
    Beautiful writing. So glad to have met you through FMF today.
    Bless you,
    Ashley
    Ashley Larkin @ Draw Near recently posted…Five Minute Friday: CrowdMy Profile

    • Thank you Ashley. I used to live in southern Oregon and we made the trek countless times to Doernbecker’s. They were a wonderful hospital! We now live in Kansas! 🙂
      Carol Bovee recently posted…The Most Beautiful Crowd (of Six)My Profile

  • This brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful crowd. You are very blessed!
    Laura Melchor recently posted…The Chapel CrowdMy Profile

  • Donna

    Carol, I swear that I recognize you from somewhere. I have this feeling that just the other day I saw you (and I know I have never met you) and I felt like I recognized you. Impossible. This is the first time I have ever read this blog and totally stumbled upon it. It would be too much of a coincidence if you lived in SE WA and it really happened. I am probably hallucinating from the pain meds from my dental surgery yesterday. But, darn, I swear you are the person and our eyes met (probably in a store or somewhere). And Anita, I am also a teacher and for some reason your name is ringing a bell with me too. It is 3:30 AM and I have not slept a wink so please just blow it off if I am talking like a crazy woman.

    • Well Donna, I was born and raised in SE Washington, and both Anita and I went to college there, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been “home”. I hope you heal quickly and we are glad you stumbled upon our blog!
      Carol Bovee recently posted…What Was God Thinking? {fmf}My Profile

      • Donna

        I think I know now what happened. Our connection is through Tammy Sharon (a former student of mine) and Christine Zenthoefer (my son’s girlfriend of 2 years). I think I was scrolling through friend of friends and saw your picture! We have 13 mutual friends, most of whom are previous students of mine! Anyway, thanks for the blog. Very helpful to me as a caregiver.

        • :). Donna, how interesting. Pretty sure I used to vacuum your mother-in-law’s house when I was at WWVA and WWC (now WWU). I’m the youngest Bennett child, so yes, I’m sure we’ve met. Christine was our student at Milo and gave us the dog we love so much! Glad you found us and blessed to know it helps. God bless you in your caregiving role!
          Carol Bovee recently posted…What Was God Thinking? {fmf}My Profile

          • Donna

            I think you are right! I vaguely remember that. MIL passed away peacefully a few years ago after gradual and painless heart failure. Willis remarried and we all still live out here on the 35 acres. Small world. Thanks so much for sharing your journey!

  • What a poignant story! Where would we be as caregivers without those people who do more than ask us to let them know if we need anything. They show up and demonstrate their love. What a treasure! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Wonderful example of just doing, instead of just offering to help. Love the love in action.

  • Extmlreey helpful article, please write more.