“An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”  – Ancient Chinese Proverb

It was already dark at 5 PM fourteen years ago today, the whipping winds providing the perfect backdrop to the tumult that took up residence in me several hours prior when the call came in.

“There is a little boy.  Two years old . . .”

We had trained to be foster parents, anointed, and ostensibly ready for this call but really not.

From two to three in just a few hours.

I made arrangements, left work, and proceeded to pace the length of our house, sit and think, and then pace some more.

What did I know about a two-year-old boy?  What did I know about this two-year-old boy?

What could I offer him in the time he would be with us?  Would he like us?  Would he feel safe with us?  Would he trust us?

This story couldn’t be scripted, I concluded.  Instead it would unfold.

011-011And right on time a knock at the door.  Enter a child unlike any I had ever seen, a child who made his way in first, in front of the adult charged with bringing him to us.  She had his belongings.  He walked down the short hall and placed his drink on the dining room table, the same hallway and dining room table I had paced up and down and past a hundred times in the last three hours.  He walked with such purpose.  I was mesmerized.

The social worker left, and my husband came home.  Then we were mesmerized–following him, watching him, wondering who this boy was, who he would be.

We talked to him and waited for him to talk to us.

Soon he did–and with conviction, intelligence, and clarity.

So we listened.

And then we did what people with two-year-old children do . . . we made dinner, we read stories, we tucked him in.

On that night fourteen years ago we did not know what the future held–for him or for us.  The best we could do was make him a promise as he slept–unspoken but palpable nonetheless: We would be here–today, tomorrow, and always, unconditionally.

Fourteen years ago on this night at this moment all was quiet but would never be the same.

We would never be the same.

And there was nothing then to do but look at each other–and then at him–with gratitude.


4 thoughts on “Untangling

  1. Memories like these can be savored and shared and lived vicariously just as other memories need love and attention.

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