Brad commented last week that I failed to mention the time he and Joel and Jenica came to visit and he spent a night puking at our first apartment. That got me thinking about another of my favorite stories: a tragedy, set on a desert highway. For those lacking intestinal fortitude, you can stop reading now.
Scott and I had reached the end of our Utah years. We'd graduated from the Y and were ready to head back to the homeland with our two little kids, Emma (nearly 3) and Ben (14 months). We packed up everything we owned into an AFB truck, save a couple of suitcases for the long drive to Tennessee. Being without beds, we were planning to spend our last night as residents of the Beehive state with Joel and Jenica before waking up early to hit the road. We would drive down to St. George first, to meet up with my grandpa (my mom's dad) to get from him some china (that had been my mom's mom's) that we would courier to my mom back in TN. Then we would make our way to Albuquerque where my wise and generous dad was flying out to meet us. We had two old Hondas and two young children and he was not keen on us each driving without a break while trying to entertain the youngin's for the 2243 mile journey. We didn't think it was entirely keen either so we gratefully accepted his help. So that was the plan. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to Joel and Jenica's.
We were hoping for a pleasant and heartfelt evening to share one last glass of slush and game of Settlers while reminiscing our good times in Utah Valley together before we left. But it was not to be. Perhaps young Ben thought it would be best to skip the difficult and sentimental goodbye, or maybe the thought of leaving was so upsetting to him that it made him physically ill. Whatever the cause, our plans were up heaved along with his dinner shortly before bedtime. No matter how close you are, it's always an awkward situation when your child throws up all over someone else's house. We considered our options (don't want to spread our germs, there's only one bathroom here and how gross for everyone else who needs to use it if Ben's puking in it all night, I'm just panicking now, um, uh...) and decided to go ahead and drive to St. George right then. J&J worded it best, we left town "on a wave of snow and vomit".
They supplied us with a handful of trash bags and a roll of paper towels. We made a hasty stop at a Wal-Mart to buy a few more. All the way down to St. George poor little Ben kept on tossing his cookies. We found a hotel when we got there and by this time he was through the worst of it. It was a long night, though, as he recovered with whimpering and thirst until morning.
The sunrise brought us new hope. Ben was fine now and his gross clothes and the towel that had served as a bib in the car were secured in a trash bag in the trunk. We met up with my grandpa and got the boxes of china and were on our way once more. Scott drove the Honda with the kids and I drove the one with the china. We took in the scenery and enjoyed our travels until Emma picked up right where Ben left off. From Flagstaff to Albuquerque we pulled over to the side of the interstate at regular intervals to do what we could to clean up the mess and changed her clothes over and over. We went through the whole week's worth of her clothes that we had packed in four hours. Every trash bag was filled, the car was smelly, the steering wheel was sticky, and our nerves were desperate.
It was dark and Emma's stomach was settling when we spotted the lights of Albuquerque on the horizon. Never has a cityscape looked so beautiful. Here we had been setting our sights and pinning our hopes ever since Emma first announced her tummy hurt. Here we would find rescue; a loving father who planned to come and help us with the long drive but would in the end provide so much more. The relief was palpable when we met him at a restaurant for a late dinner. While we munched on the last of our french fries, he took care of everything. He went and bought Emma a couple of new outfits, he took wet paper towels to wash off what interior surfaces of the car were still sticky. He filled the tanks of our Hondas with gas and our hearts with hope that we would actually make it to our destination without falling apart.
And we did. Thanks, Dad.