Yesterday, some of my favorite little boys were here to play while the moms "had a meeting." Maryan's cell phone was incessant--and insistent. Amidst our teasing that she rivaled Sarah Palin--what with two calls coming in at the same time--she took the call and walked into the next room. And then, we heard her wail. There is no sound so unmistakable as that of anguish. A tragedy was unfolding at the Vander Woude farm. And a hero and a saint was being taken from a family who was blessed beyond words by his life.
Thomas Vander Woude has just begun to bless the rest of us. We enlisted the big girls to keep the little ones outside as we got organized and got Maryan on her way. Then, we brought the children inside to pray the rosary as Maryan and her precious boys traveled towards the hospital and home. Later, when the word came officially that "Papa" had died saving Joseph, it was with remarkable ease and assurance that my seven-year-old told me, huge brown eyes, brimming, "That's a very holy way to die.He gave his whole life for his boy."
That's a holy way to live too. And he did that as well.
Later that evening, three of my children came to me separately to ask if we could gather one more time before bed to offer prayers for the Vander Woude family. In death, as in life, Tom Vander Woude's example brought children to God.
Today, without a doubt, every candle in the house will stay lit all day and our hearts and prayers will be constantly with that huge family with the huge faith. May our Lord and His Blessed Mother console them as they live the first day with a huge hole in their midst.