Yesterday, the four of us packed into the van, each one of us with books and pillows and music, and we headed south/west to the coastal region of Oregon. We were going to Caspian's Parent's Day 300 miles away. We left at 10 am and didn't arrive until 5 pm . . . . thanks to two gas stops, multiple pee breaks thanks to multiple coffee stops, and of course lunch! It was like a mini-road trip. Nicole took the wheel for part of it, and we all took turns reading.
After not seeing Caspian for three weeks and wondering every single moment how he was doing, we were all eager. As we got out of the car, I looked up and noticed a handsome guy headed our way (no lack of them at this camp!) and I went to point him out to Nicole (her radar for good looking young men is always in the "on" position) when I realized it was Caspian. It was a shock. In three weeks, he was taller, thinner, older, wiser . . . I worried about hugging him--didn't know how it might affect his reputation at the camp with his friends, but I didn't worry long before I was clasped in a huge, powerful, heartfelt hug from him. (I got at least ten by the time I left.)
The transformation in Caspian was startling for all of us. He has always been kind and funny and sweet and handsome, but he has struggled with fitting in, with speaking out or letting go enough in front of others to be silly. He tended to be quiet and stay on the sidelines. Now he was introducing us to people left and right. Everyone knew him. Three people stopped us to tell us how wonderful he was--kind and supportive and INSPIRING to others. Apparently Caspian is the one that helps keep his team going when they are tired and want to stop pulling weeds or carrying heavy loads in the rain.
I tear up again thinking of watching him there. He was in his "element". He SWAGGERED. He was CONFIDENT, the one thing that had eluded him for so long. He was as happy as I have ever seen him. His feet are a mess of scaly skin and blisters, and he has had a cold, and his tent got flooded--and he is smiling. He dropped and did THIRTY push ups for us just to show he could. He hugged us all repeatedly, even the brother. During the circle activity, he raised his hand and volunteered answers. We were told that during "personal history", where campers speak about themselves for an HOUR (an HOUR!?!?!?!), he volunteered to go first. This, from the boy who preferred to keep quiet and just let others talk. His leaders had heard the story of how Joseph and I met, Nicole's trip to Alaska, and Coryn's penchant for computers. He even said there were rumors he might be voted as the worker of the week . . .
The moment that about did me in was the moment where he took me inside his tent to show me where everyone slept (a crowded and muddy mess of blankets that I can't imagine sleeping in . . . ) and he said, "Here, Happy Birthday, Mom". He handed me a beautiful glass sculpture of the lighthouse that is right next to where they are camping. "I knew this would be important to you." He knew my dad loved lighthouses, so I have a soft spot for them.
So, in the middle of working, when they had a little time off, he went into town to the gift shop and he bought this for me. His leader told me they had to hustle to get there before the store closed. It is the only thing he has spent money on, other than showers and laundry, since he left. I cry every time I think of it and you can bet the lighthouse will go somewhere where I can see it every day. He also brought me a shell that he had found on the sand. I cannot begin to explain the depth of appreciation I had for this moment.
We have all missed Caspian every single day and are eager to have him back in two weeks. There is no doubt in our minds, however, that this was the single best thing he has ever done. He is already planning to go back in June. He earns a good amount of money at this camp and deserves every penny.
Our drive home was FOREVER, along dark and winding roads with endless pine trees on each side. At one point, we pulled over and got out to gasp at the ocean under the light of the moon. It was mysterious and beautiful and one of those forever memories. We were driven inside by the cold wind, but the moment of standing there under the moonlight, listening to the surf and feeling my heart full of gratitude for my family will remain.
We pulled in our driveway at 5 a.m. Checked mail, fed the cat, brought in stuff from the car, noticed the morning birds, and then fell into bed. Up four hours later, I find myself still with that smile on my face and a heart full of gratitude--and a beautiful glass lighthouse on my desk. I am truly full of pride---and joy.