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We Watch

Bob Baugher

We watch from above

As they all arrive at the hotel

Some have flown

Others have driven

They enter, pulling suitcases, carrying bags and purses

To the casual observer they look like anyone else

Signing for their room key

Picking up their Conference bag at Registration

That is, until you see their name tags that include our names

Until you watch them deciding which of 16 workshops to attend,

Each across seven time slots

Until you observe first-time parents, siblings, and grandparents comforted by long-timers

Until you view old friends hugging in the hallway, laughing at lunch,

And saying, “It’s good to see you!”

Friday and Saturday evening we see them choose among some 20 sharing sessions

With topics relevant to the way we left this earth

We listen as they say our names, tell our story, question, laugh, cry, sit silent

Although difficult to watch, we know that a long, slow adjustment

To a “new normal” is taking place

At Saturday night banquet there they are sitting at a table with seven others

Who share a journey, some ahead, some behind

As the rolls and butter are passed around, caring questions emerge

“Where are you from?” “What is (not was) his name?” “Do you have a picture of her?”

As the speaker finishes and the desserts are eaten (Hey Dad, don’t eat two)

The candle-lighting ceremony begins

Even we gasp as more than a thousand candles light up the darkened room

The ceremony concludes with new friends hugging, chatting, and exchanging emails

Early Sunday we see them on their walk—for us of course

Tee-shirts, banners, and pictures

Hundreds of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and grandparents

Quietly chat as they move down the street

All the while each carrying love in their heart

The closing ceremony bids them all a safe trip

And as they head to the airport or to their cars

They take with them memories of a weekend brimming with caring and love

Of workshops and sharing sessions, of new friends and old, and promises to keep in touch

But most importantly they take what they came with

Their enduring love for us

We watch as they head home having experienced a long-remembered gift

The gift of a TCF Conference

Published in TCF Magazine We Need Not Walk Alone Fall, 2011.


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