|OK, they don't still look like this, but they should.|
We went about our merry way without them and late last night, we saw we had messages on the phone--we hadn't heard any of the phones ring--from Braeden. He said, "Emma is sick," then another message, "We are coming home." We tried to call back the number on our cell phones but to no avail.
We had a lot of questions.
Finally at midnight, Braeden called to say they were 3 1/2 hours away. Emma had heat stroke and was doing better in the air conditioned car. We hung up the phone and prayed for them and for the man driving them. I sort of went back to sleep but woke up a lot and Adam went downstairs to hold vigil.
They stumbled in at 3:30, having not slept in the twenty-two hours since they left home. They were exhausted and not too communicative but here's what I surmised:
It was hot. 110 degrees. Emma was fine and trying to drink a lot of water but towards the end of their day's walk, she felt sick. She had a terrible head-ache. A leader went to find Braeden because Emma was unresponsive to his questions. Braeden had her lie down and he stroked her head and talked to her. She was given Tylenol. Janet came by and hugged Emma. Braeden's eyes filled with tears and he said, "I need a hug too." So Janet gave him one too.
Braeden loves his sister but he also loves Janet. All our children do. I think having her there and knowing we're moving to a place without ready access to Janet, brought emotions to the surface. This isn't the first time I've been grateful to her for stepping in to mother them on my behalf.
They were taking the sick people--Emma wasn't the only one--to the base camp. Emma didn't want to go. She didn't want to be weak. Braeden, hoping it would help her, convinced her to go. He said, "Will you go if I go with you?"
She said yes.
He went to get his things and then Emma started throwing up. Braeden held her hand while they rode in the back of a bumpy pickup truck. He stayed with her and convinced well meaning women who were trying to get her to eat that she really didn't feel like eating. I'm not sure everything that transpired--and they are still fast asleep so I can't get details--but a man was driving back home because he needed to work. It was determined that Emma could ride home with him if Braeden came too (for the sake of propriety and just good sense). Braeden readily agreed.
Last night, Emma cried. She felt bad about coming home. I reminded her of the preparation she had taken. She'd done the prescribed practice walks, she'd diligently tried to drink lots of water in preparation. Give Emma a specific assignment and she'll do it. My heart ached for my sweet girl. Sometimes our human frailties just get in the way. After she had gone to bed and I was plying Braeden for information. I said, "Were you unhappy to come home?"
He said, "No. She was really sick, Mom. I was worried about her."
I said, "But are you disappointed?"
"Yeah, a little. But she needed me."
Earlier in the day I had grumped about Braeden. In our house, that is supposed to be remaining perfect so we can sell it (Ha ha, I know. Good luck.), he had left for youth conference with his clothes scattered on the floor of his bedroom.
Sitting next to my tenderhearted boy last night and recognizing all over again that the soul housed in his big, accident prone body is finer than probably any of us deserve, I marveled at the loving Heavenly Father who gave me the gift of this son.
He can leave his clothes on the floor whenever he wants.