Here’s the song reference.
I went to early Mass yesterday, then scooted home to gather up Mr. Man and Baby Guy, who would be accompanying me on a short trip with Deedaw while Bugaboo and Beanie went to 9:30 Mass with Manie. You see, yesterday marked exactly 7 months since Nonno left, and Deedaw wanted to take her best guy some flowers. After a bit of circular driving to purchase flowers and locate Deedaw’s cane, we headed northward to the cemetery where Nonno’s remains rest.
This particular July in Virginia has been very hot and very sticky; walking through the rows of headstones to get to Nonno’s grave somewhat resembled a walk through a vat of unfinished taffy. Baby Guy was cranky from being in his car seat and thus unable to run; while he was able to walk around the cemetery, the number of visitors and the overall solemnity of the place precluded his really being able to bust loose in ebullient two-year-old fashion. He contented himself with helping Mr. Man clean tombstones with the bag of baby wipes that always accompanies us on these trips for a few minutes before pelting off down the row.
Mr. Man stayed devotedly by his Deedaw while I chased down his errant little brother, alternating between patting her shoulder and patting Nonno’s stone. When Baby Guy and I returned, the four of us joined in a last prayer for the living and the dead, Baby Guy squirming and complaining in my lap all the while, before we started the sweaty walk back to the van.
On that walk, Mr. Man stopped to get a wipe from our stash, and turned briefly aside to help a widow, a stranger to us, clean her husband’s gravestone. He patted her arm, too, when he noticed she was crying. We all stopped to offer her our comfort and understanding, and to assure her of our prayers, before continuing back across the grass.
Baby Guy is still working on the concept of holding hands when he’s let down to walk, so our progress was punctuated by me diverting off to one side or the other to catch him after he slipped his hand free of mine and took off to see the many flowers that decorated graves in that section of the cemetery. Eventually, I had to scoop him up and carry him, kicking and screaming, back to the van. The heat and humidity of the day were simply too much for Deedaw, and I fretted that Baby Guy, if he continued sprinting amongst the stones, would either draw the ire of other visitors or drop from heat exhaustion.
As I belted my struggling son back into his car seat, I sighed between his cries, thinking the twenty-five mile ride home was going to be rather a long one. Deedaw shot me a sympathetic glance, and wordlessly produced a bag of veggie fries from among her belongings. That seemed to calm our youngest a bit; it’s always struck me as a great mercy that all of our children have responded well to a little snack when they’re grouchy. After a quick stop at the trash can to dispose of used wipes and water bottles, we headed southwards, intermittent complaints from Baby Guy still punctuating the audio from the movie the boys were watching.
As we drove the curving ramp onto the interstate, Baby Guy’s irritated ejaculations turned to sounds of wonder and happiness, and we heard him repeating, over and over, “I see blue! I see blue!” A quick peek into the rear-view mirror showed me that he was pointing out the van window at the sky.
“Yeah, big guy, you see skies of blue, don’t you? Do you see the clouds of white, too?”
“I see white! I see white!”
Deedaw gave me a wry smile. We’d both been so caught up in our sadness, in our missing Nonno, that we’d forgotten the majesty of the heavens, the beauty of a blue sky adorned with billows of puffy cloud.
Our trip home was pretty peaceful, actually.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the reminder from the mouth of Your little blessing that when the cares of this life grieve us sorely, we need but look to You and Your promises to find comfort and peace. Thank You for the opportunity You provided to comfort a mourning stranger, and for the means You have given us to get to the places where strangers need comforting. Please guard my mind and heart from anxiety over our daily cares, and help me teach Your blessings that You will provide what we need for the day. We will not be without discomforts, but if we bear in mind that Your service is our priority, we will be able to bear those small crosses joyfully.