Son lost to slide will always be remembered with love

DARRINGTON — Their son’s touch is all around them.

It is in the log bed where they sleep at night.

It’s in the coffee table and patio chairs, the mirror hanging on the kitchen wall and in the magazine rack with the word “Mom” and two hearts burned into the wood.

Alan Bejvl was 21, long, lean and hard working. The Oso mudslide took him and 42 others a year ago Sunday. His body was found near Delaney Webb, a former Darrington High School classmate he’d planned to marry last August.

Diana Bejvl often thinks about the youngest of her three children. He inspires her to urge others to cherish family, friends and time.

“Alan would be so mad if I curled up in a ball and wilted away,” she said.

So, she pushes through her grief, telling herself: “While our family is forever altered, we are still forever family.”

She hands out business cards that say: “Thru this day and ALWAYS, let us REMEMBER what is truly important: LOVE.”

Always remember love. The message seems the best way to honor her son.

John and Diana Bejvl left well-paying jobs in the suburbs a quarter-century ago to raise their family on a farm nestled in the foothills of the North Cascades. There was no TV reception, no video games on the Bejvl spread a half mile as the crow flies from the nearest neighbors. What they had was each other. When the children were old enough to help with chores, they did. They made their own fun.

“We have absolutely no regrets,” Diana said. “We are never sorry for not being able to do the expensive things. Love is what you take with you. Now that we are where we are, I look at how grateful I am we made a choice that (gave) us the family time we had. That’s what gets me through.”

Alan got to know Delaney in a high school shop class where he showed her how to use a tape measure. He was two years older.

Time passed. He finished school. He kept in touch with Delaney on Facebook.

Delaney started messaging him. Eventually she asked if he would like to get together some time.

Alan wondered: You mean like a date? He’d never been on one, much less had a girlfriend.

Delaney told him she would be embarrassed if he said no. He wouldn’t allow that.

They met that Wednesday because neither could wait for the weekend. Beaming, Alan came home and told his mom: “I think this can go somewhere.”

It was Delaney who kissed Alan first. Diana is thankful to the young woman who loved her son and treated him right.

“She took really good care of his heart,” she said.

They were planning their future, one that included a log cabin in the woods between Oso and Darrington.

Alan’s work ethic was known across the Stillaguamish Valley. Jeff and Jan McClelland saw it on their Darrington goat farm where Alan helped out for a time.

Andy Reece, a Marysville heavy equipment contractor who grew up in Darrington, hired Alan on the spot even when there were no openings.

Diana frequented the Darrington Fire Hall after the slide, poking people in the chest and exhorting them: “YOU FIND MY SON!” They never lost patience with her.

A year later, she’s indebted to the searchers, both strangers and friends. She thinks about them every day, and probably will for the rest of her life.

Diana has made a flier to thank people in the valley.

“Combined we have lost much,” she wrote. “Our lives are forever bound by this tragedy, but, as a community, we are not alone and we have shown that we have the strength to persevere.”

Diana was with her community six months after the slide when the state Department of Transportation re-opened Highway 530 to two-lane traffic. There was a chance for local folks to walk along the new ribbon of road connecting them to I-5 and the faster-paced world they call “Down Below,”

That day, she happened upon a stump. Atop the stump was a dark blue hooded sweatshirt with a picture of a Tootsie Pop and the words “How many licks does it take?” She recognized it immediately. It had been a gift to Alan from a relative. He wore it often.

“Of all the things I could have found, it was the only thing that Alan could leave that would make me laugh and cry,” she said.

The hoody is a bit faded from the months in the sun. She will wear it Sunday and for years to come.

Diana remembers when her mother was dying. Her mother told her: “I’m tired. I’m looking forward to having a cup of coffee with my mom.”

The sentiment held such pleasant hope.

For now, she will hold dear to her family and encourage others to love those around them.

“There will be a time for having coffee with Alan,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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