Today started with a crash. My daughter's 4' x 6' corkboard, crusted with the mementos of an 11-year-old life, fell to the floor, waking us all. Which turned out to be a blessing, as I'd overslept, and this wasn't a morning for lounging. It was the last day our priest of 10 years would be serving our parish -- our last chance to bid a fond farewell before he is called to another congregation.
The temperature was plummeting, and it was raining cats and dogs. Snow -- an anomaly anytime of year here in Charlotte -- is forecast. I point out to the kids that we need to dress accordingly. Frantically throwing on clothes so we can get to the 8:30a service, my son finds he has only two pairs of pants. Not two pairs of CLEAN pants, but somehow, in the entire house (including hamper, backpack, washer, dryer and under the bed), TWO pairs of pants -- and they're both lying damply in the washer.
Now, any parent of a teenager can tell you that the wardrobe is limited -- not only is there a finite number of items they'll wear, but there's an even smaller number which fit their ever-stretching bodies. But still, TWO? Last week, there were at least half a dozen, but that can't be addressed now, because we're late, we're late, we're late.
On the way out the door, I realize we haven't seen Lionel, our year-old (indoor) cat, but again, we've got to scoot. The service begins at 8:30a. We arrive, soggy, shivering, irritable -- and mid-sermon. My bad. The early service began at 8:15a.
Taking our seats in a back pew, I listen with half an ear to the service I was determined not to miss. As my heart rate returns to normal, concern for the cat sets in. I try to think of when we last saw him. Losing Lionel is not an option. We lost our dog in September. The cat is a necessity.
After the service, we all say our goodbyes and I drive home, telling the kids that I think Lionel is missing. We come up with a plan of action. But first, we've got to change out of our church clothes. It's freezing. It's teeming rain. I try to calculate our odds of finding Lionel in this soggy mess. As my dad would say, there were two chances -- "slim" and "none."
I send the kids to change, but I run outside, holding my jacket over my head, calling Lionel, looking anywhere I think he might be. No good. Eyes brimming with tears, I run upstairs to change, so I can lead a more thorough search.
Just as I'm tugging on dry jeans, I hear my daughter scream -- or is that a squeal? Her brother, the one who claims to hate the cat, has just climbed the stairs, in waterlogged church clothes, and bearing an even more drenched cat.
My hero. Time for a well-deserved favorite meal -- corned beef. No recipe necessary. I can just offer up that, for some reason, corned beef is always better (not too tough, not too mushy) when prepared in a slow cooker.
Perfect. All that slow cooking gives me ample time to count my blessings. Which are many.