It’s pretty hard to beat a happy homecoming celebration for someone who’s been gone away for a while.
When that someone is a 6-year-old boy who was injured in a tragic accident but who has recovered well enough to leave a rehabilitation hospital and be brought back home again, the sentiment rings particularly true.
Walnut-area residents have done an amazing job supporting the family of Caleb Clausen after the youngster was hit by a semitrailer in September when his electric mini-bike went off the end of a driveway, onto state Route 92, and into the big rig’s path.
And they did just as an amazing job to organize a nice welcome home greeting last Friday as Caleb’s mom and dad, Ben and Annie Clausen of Walnut, brought Caleb home from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in time for Christmas.
Friends, community members, and Caleb’s fellow students at Bureau Valley North were on hand in the shadow of Walnut’s iconic water tower to welcome the Clausens’ minivan to town.
Eleven kids held big individual letters that spelled “Welcome Home.”
Other signs said things like “Welcome home! We missed you! #teamcaleb,” “Welcome home Caleb; Where superheroes are made,” and “Merry Christmas to the Clausens.”
Most impressive was a professionally made banner sporting the Captain America shield and the words: “Our Miracle’s Homecoming; Welcome Home Caleb!”
There were smiles on a lot of faces for those who witnessed the homecoming in person, and those who saw it through social media, in print and online.
What is it about the Caleb Clausen story that tugs at the heartstrings of people who don’t even know him?
A simple thought: There, but for the grace of God, go I – or my child – or my beloved family member.
The accident sparked an outpouring of prayers, support and fundraisers, as the young Clausen family and their three other children faced a frightening crisis that no one should have to endure.
One thing young Caleb and his family can take away from this is the knowledge that many, many, many people are pulling for him to make a full recovery.
Some of those people don’t know him personally, but they can all imagine themselves in his shoes, or his family’s, and just want a happy ending to every family’s worst nightmare.
In this season of faith, hope and new beginnings, that happy ending appears within reach.
It certainly got a boost last week in Walnut.
We add our voices to the chorus.
Welcome home, Caleb.