Three Little Words

“Mom?”

The syllable was drawn out, long and low with a hint of whine, a precursor to a request that would invariably involve my stopping what I was doing within the next fourteen seconds.

“Yes, August?”

“I love you.”

IMG_4509This started a while ago and has continued multiple times a day ever since. At first I thought it was simply my affectionate six-year-old’s attempt to test out the phrase, one he’s heard so many times, his way of attaching meaning to this sequence of words.

Then I thought it was his way of checking in. I was doing my thing; he was doing his thing. And though I was no more than ten feet away, he wanted to make sure I was still there.

And soon I noticed it would come along, in customary sibling fashion, when one of his brothers was in trouble, an effort to highlight the fact that at this exact moment it wasn’t him.

It took me a long time to come around to this particular sentence. Though I had heard the words regularly from my mother as a child, they never seemed to align with what I thought love was supposed to be—at least according to what I observed in others, read in books, and gleaned from the all-instructive late-‘70’s NBC television lineup and 92 PRO FM playlist.

So, for a long time this sentence gave me difficulty; and I concluded, perhaps with a sigh, that it simply was not for me. I filed it away, heard other people say it, show it and wondered about it; and though I know I felt it, I never really knew how to say it.

That changed, of course, once deeds matched words, and “I love you” soon became something I not only needed to hear but needed to say. Many people, of course, feel they don’t need to say “I love you” if they are showing it. But for me, given my checkered, truncated history with this sentence, I want to leave no room for doubt.

And though August’s history is not the same as mine, he, too, is figuring out this all-important sentence. He asked this week, “Mom, why do I say ‘I love you’ so much?”

I asked him why he thought he did; and he said, “Because it’s in my heart.”

Speaking your heart. A lesson from an exceedingly loving, uninhibited six-year-old.

July 23

One day can bend your life . . .” –Mitch Albom

Oh, we all know this to be true. Examples are too numerous and too varied to even begin to make an attempt to list them here.

But for me, for us, today is one of those days.

July 23.

Our lives bent in a way we never saw coming, in a way our hearts could only imagine when we even dared to allow ourselves such a wish.

July 23, 2014.

A midsummer day that started off as uneventfully as any day could.

The novelty of summer and the drive to fill up every day with grand adventures had generally started to dissipate. It was hot. Routine had set in. My young children were staying up a little later and sleeping in a little later. I was finding myself with an hour or so each morning. I read. I wrote. I sat on my front porch and did nothing.

And on July 23, 2014, around 7:10 AM, I made my way downstairs, hungry as per usual, so I turned on the skillet and prepared to make my customary egg. And while I waited for the skillet to warm, I perfunctorily if not a little sleepily approached my computer and logged into my email.

And so began the day that would bend our lives.

David, July 2001

David, July 2001

Our former foster son, his full name emblazoned in the subject line, the same name that had been emblazoned in and on our hearts and minds for nearly a decade-and-a-half, had written five sentences to us.

Five sentences that would lead to a correspondence that would lead to a meeting that would lead to time spent together that would lead to . . . everything else.

July 23, 2014, arrived quietly and then bent our lives toward renewal, toward love, and toward hope.

And toward a future that until that moment resided elsewhere, that could never have been realized if not for five sentences bravely sent and received and for all the equally brave hearts willing to bend on its behalf.