Chilean mine rescue: Little boys waiting for their dads

Every night that my husband works, my kid tries to finagle a later bedtime.

“Can’t I just stay up until dad gets home,” he always whines. Seeing his father before he goes to bed is important to Will, and he drives a hard bargain: “I’ll go to bed extra early tomorrow night,” he usually promises.

But I am a pretty strict bedtime enforcer. Tonight, though, was a special night because he wanted to see someone else’s father, not his own.

You see, Will wanted to stay up to see the first miner rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine in Chile.

We’ve followed the amazing story of the trapped miners, and this evening felt like the culmination of one of the most amazing stories of human perseverance, courage and ingenuity. That the rescue efforts would stretch for nearly two days if all went well didn’t dampen the excitement of this first rescue.

But time wasn’t on Will’s side.

A few hours earlier, we had grabbed a quick dinner with my mom and sister in a restaurant with televisions. Every eye in the place, it seemed, stayed glued to a TV screen. Maybe we’d see the first rescue, we all hoped, but it didn’t happen.

When we got home, the estimate from news reports was that the first miner would make it to the surface in two hours, close to Will’s bedtime. As those two hours passed, Will dawdled as he walked the dog, made his lunch, loaded his backpack and got ready for bed.

I let him stay up a little longer; unfortunately for Will, the rescue efforts were moving slower than we had hoped, and so off to bed he went.

“It’s going to be a long operation,” I told him as he disappointedly climbed the stairs to his bedroom. “We’ll see some rescues in the morning, before you go to school.”

I spent the rest of the evening mesmerized by the live coverage on CNN, in awe of the amazing rescue effort. When my husband got home from work, we watched together, and, like many of you, I am sure, heaved a huge sigh of relief as Florencio Avalos became the first of the trapped miners to breathe fresh air in two months.

The emotional center of the rescue, though, was Avalos’ son, who, just moments before the rescue, balloon in hand, as his dad’s 2,300-foot journey to the surface of the earth neared its end, let loose with his own tears of joy. Or were they tears of impatience? I can’t be sure.

Any time at all — two hours, two days, two weeks, two months — is too much time for little boys waiting for their dads.

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