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I hope that Randall Chesser is in a comfy bed, feet propped up, with a warm, fluffy comforter tucked over his slight body.
I hope that his favorite television show is on in front of him, or his favorite game, or that someone is reading his favorite book to him.
I hope that he is surrounded by his favorite aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives.
I hope that he’s wearing a big grin, one like I’ve seen in the school photos of him.
I hope Randall Chesser feels safe and secure, rested, fed and comfortable.
I hope that Randall’s cowboy boots with the little spurs have dried out by now.
I hope those little boots don’t remind him of a time when he wasn’t safe and warm, fed and comfortable.
I hope those boots are still the symbol that they should be for a little boy in a rural town in Kentucky, and not a reminder of bad things.
I hope Randall is still a cowboy at heart, and forever will be.
I hope that Randall, a kid whose appearance reminds me of myself at that age, is hugged a little tighter each day from now on. I’m sure that he will be.
I hope that Randall is or was treated like a celebrity while he’s in the hospital.
I hope he goes on to be the grand marshal of parades.
I hope people beam when they see him, thankful that one of their own is home, again.
I hope that the people of this county, and especially those in Willisburg, look around at one another and realize they’re not alone. People have your back here. No doubt.
I hope Randall’s little cheeks are rosy from excessive pinching.
I hope he is getting a healthy dose of his favorite foods.
I hope he forgets the exhaustion he felt during those 45 hours.
I hope he forgets the fear and confusion of being lost and alone, on rough terrain, for so long.
I hope he remembers the joy of being found, but never the agony of lying on the ground, wet, wondering what was going on.
I hope he forgets the rain, the wind, the lightning. Those things are scary enough for a little guy inside a cozy house.
I hope that I never again have to lay awake at night, listening to the wind, rain and lightning, wondering how a little local boy is doing out in the world, uncovered, scared, wet and alone.
I hope that my daughter walks through this world protected from all harm, but I know that she may not. Anything can happen to anyone, as we’ve all seen.
I hope that I recognize that and really savor, cherish, and live the moments that I spend with her.
I hope that I can squeeze those little cheeks, smooth her hair, and see that Earth-stopping smile for many more days to come.
I hope that there are many more times that I look at her and simply marvel at the amazing, utterly miraculous notion of life.
Welcome home, Randall. We’ve missed you. We were worried, but we are very, very glad that you are home.