Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Candlelight at Disneyland

I'll admit I was devastated when Benjamin dropped out of baseball to take on a second choir class at school. This was my last four years to have a son in the high school. I had followed Tighe's four years of baseball, then Jeremy's four years. Now it seemed like Ben would only have two years of baseball. Choir was something we already did with him, and I knew I'd really miss the baseball. It was his choice, though, so I think I was fairly good natured about my disappointment.

I can't imagine there are all that many choir directors who are as incredible as Mr. Bonn, their fearless leader. He ran a tight ship, and really taught music. Their concerts were astounding, and I was proud to be one of the mothers attending. Ben's tenor voice blended well with the others, and having him in both the main chorus, plus the advanced choir, gave me twice the opportunity to burst my maternal buttons. Ben was never the vocal star, but being so tall, he was a standout on the risers at all times. His sunny smile and proud stance always made me feel good. I've rarely seen such a tall man with such great posture.

Living only a couple of hours from Disneyland, they would send in competition tapes to join the annual Candlelight Service at the Magic Kingdom. Anyone who gets the chance to attend this awesome service can have my whole hearted recommendation right now. Being so well trained, it was fairly customary for their choir to be chosen to attend. As a family, we'd pack up and watch, listening and trying to pick out our group from the thousands of singers holding candles and singing the sweet Christmas carols we all loved. Then one year, they changed to an indoor venue, and we didn't realize that we'd have to run like mad to a location where we could get tickets. We were there, but unable to get tickets. I was beyond depressed. It's the only time I've been to Disneyland and not felt the magic.

The following year, as they prepared to go again, I was unable to get a ride. John was on a business trip. Tighe and Jeremy had moved out and were both busy. Cataracts prevented me from driving after dark at all, and limited my driving in unfamiliar territory. I was almost prepared to drive there alone anyway, but Ben convinced me that I shouldn't. He said he'd try to find me a ride. It seemed that he had, but it fell through when other friends or family members had come to claim all the seats in the car. I found myself sitting home alone. My son's last Candlelight would come and go without me. Life could be a bummer.

The day crawled by. Evening began, and I sat alone, thinking, "Now they'll be marching in. Now they'll be reading of the journey to Bethlehem. Now they'll be singing." In my mind, I tried to be there, not to feel sorry for myself. It wasn't working. I didn't turn on the television or pick up a book. For hours I just sat there.

Then the phone rang. "Hello?" I could hear singing. I listened carefully. Nobody was saying anything, but I could really hear singing! After the song ended, I heard Ben's voice. "Mom, are you there? I can't put the phone to my ear, but we want you with us. I'm going to pass you around now." And then, from the receiver of the phone, I heard the parade of voices saying things like:

Hi, Mom!
Hi, Ben's Mom!
Hi, Mrs. H!
Hey, Mama! We're marching out now!
Listen up, here comes the next song!

For about fifteen minutes they kept me on the phone. As they exited through the cast doors, Ben was finally able to put the phone to his ear and make sure I was really there. He hadn't been able to tell for sure. Of course I was crying. He had made my night, giving me a memory for all time, and letting me know that I was important to him. Parents sometimes feel insecure about that. OK, so I still feel insecure about that at times, but that night I knew I lived in his heart, just as surely as he lived in mine. Thanks again, Benjamin.

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