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!