(Mom: There will be a hunting picture at the end of this post - just want to warn you.....)
Thursday night was a very tense night around our house. I got overheated earlier in the day and had an icepack on my neck to try to fight off the ensuing headache, I was dealing with good-byes to Julie over i-chat (which are never fun) - but, the most agonizing, was waiting for the phone to ring.
I think we've all had those moments - waiting for a phone call, the kind that can change everything. Maybe it's from a doctor, about test results. Or, from a paramedic, calling to tell you about a loved one being in trouble. Or, waiting to hear that somebody, long overdue, is finally safe. I've dealt with all three, and thankfully, on each of the three scenarios I'm considering here, the end result has turned out okay. But, you know that can't always be the case, and as time drags and drags, and your mind and heart go crazy with terrible conclusions, it doesn't matter that logic tells you "this time" it will turn out okay, instead, you wonder if your time of "beating the odds" has finally come up.
In this circumstance, I was waiting to hear from Michele, who, in turn was waiting to hear from Michael and Traig. They had left early in the morning, on their seventh day of hunting for an elk. Michael and Traig had habitually come home for lunch, so when they didn't show up at lunch time, Michele assumed they had found some elk and were tracking/hunting them. She told herself not to worry, but as 3pm turned into 5pm - and then 7pm.....well, by the time it was dark, she was near panic (but, trying not to show it as she had Ellie and Nati with her back at their trailer at camp). It's not like she even had the power to go look for them, they were in the middle of no where, and Michael and Traig had taken their only form of transportation. Michael had a working cell phone with him - as well as a charger, but all Michele got was immediate voicemail, so she assumed it was left in the truck or they were out of range.
Of course, the most logical conclusion to this whole thing was that they were successful in their hunt - and as a result, it took a whole lot more time to find the elk, time to make the shot, time to find the elk after it may or may not have run after the shot, and then, of course, to prepare the elk and carry it all out to the truck. Depending on when they found the herd, this could have all taken place quite late in the afternoon, so it was absolutely justifiable that they might have returned quite late (as they were running out of days to hunt). However, like I said before - that's not what a person tends to dwell on (logical conclusions), once worry creeps in.
At 9:15, after Michele had called over and over and over again.....she actually got ringing, instead of immediate voicemail. And, then Michael's voice. They were "both okay". A few moments later, they were walking in the trailer, with Traig absolutely exuberant, as he had got an elk. This was his first year hunting and he was successful - and so thrilled. What he didn't expect was to walk in and see his mom's face covered in tears....... Poor Michele, she did a good job pulling a 180 on her emotions. And, what do you know, but that logical conclusion story, was pretty much exactly how it played out. Michael didn't realize that Michele didn't know that they had never intended to return for lunch, or just how long it takes to "handle" an elk after it's been shot. (I'm trying to use generic terms here for anyone offended with the whole idea of hunting....and just so it's made clear, their family intends to use every bit of meat from this deer, so it is not simply an act of sport....)
So, in the end, it all turned out not only okay, but victorious. I'm very proud of Traig, not only for being successful in his first hunt, but for having the determination to keep at it, despite days of discouragement. Michele told me that Traig was exceptional last week, such a good big brother and loving member to the family. In fact, despite what you might think about camping in the middle of no where, and spending up to 9 hours in a truck with 3 kids in tow, searching for elk sightings, and for Michele, spending 7 days in the trailer with the girls - it was an extraordinarily bonding time for their entire family. So much so, that even a televised OSU game was nearly not enough to bring them home early (not to mention our planned visit!).
So, congrats to Traig- well done, nephew! And, I'm happy for the whole Schilling family, that shared in the victories as well.....