In long-ago story-telling, the speaker often used inclusion, repetition, to bracket the essential point, marking the beginning and the end of an important story. And so, I write:
Many years ago we received a call, a baby born in Latin America. Our adoption agency told us we had 24 hours to say “yes.” We took less than 1/24 of a second. But the laws of our baby’s birth country made us wait for four months before we could fly through the night sky to him. And so… the stars.
I walked outside at night and prayed into the universe, into those stars: “Protect my baby, keep him safe, healthy, loved, until we arrive.” Never mind that the stars in the Northern Hemisphere are not shining in the Southern Hemisphere, I chattered away, every night. Talking to those stars and whispering love to my child.
We transformed his room – splashing plain white walls with teddy bears, bright in red, blue and yellow. I knit baby blankets and sewed little quilted blankets and bought what I thought we would need, what Paraguay lacked. I sat up in bed at 3:00am one summer night and exclaimed, “I forgot socks! No socks!” My sister sent me a barrel of socks and said, “Get to sleep!” When the imposed separation was over, the room was ready and the suitcases full, so we flew – through all those stars, north and south, to meet our child.
In these - very fast – past 18 years, he has become himself. Even when we pulled him in one direction, he righted himself and pursued his own path. Thank God. We have loved him through sickness and health, crazy teachers (he had a few) and wonderful adventures. He has loved us through all our life learning and sometimes silly expectations. He has taken us where we would not have traveled on our own. He sings, performs, draws, acts, - he is an artist; he is a wise soul who offers sage advice quietly, profoundly. He detects nonsense before I do. We are blessed.
Tonight my son flew away into the stars. He will be gone three weeks – the longest we have been apart – except for those beginning months of his life. He is playing among the stars – theater stars – who sing and dance and act. As his dad drove him to the airport, I quickly invaded his room (with his permission) to deconstruct the images of the middle school re-model. Wild horse decals galloping around the room, peeled off easily. A mess under his dresser an archeologist may enjoy. (“Ah! That’s where that math assignment from freshman year is!”) All those remnants of childhood stuffed into corners of the years.
And while he sings and makes friends and discovers the humid, sultry nights of New York, I will paint his chosen color on bedroom walls, in a room where he has slept and dreamed, where he has rehearsed his music, in his own voice and reached determinedly for the stars.
(S-R archives photo)