1 March 2021
This smiling young man in his First Communion suit turns twenty-one today. Eighteen of those years he and his sister Sarah spent with us, fifteen of them as “official family” since we adopted them in 2005. Like many children with hard pasts, they were a handful. More than once I wondered if God was granting my exasperated mother’s wish, “One day may the Lord give you a child. Just. Like. You.”
Instead he gave me these two. Two frightened, skittish, love-resistant little monkeys whose difficult past made it hard for them to trust us, and even harder to trust themselves. Almost from the start, it was clear that these kids were nothing like us: In school they struggled to keep up with their classmates and make friends. This was new territory for my husband and me, who were always at the top of our classes and (in the case of my husband) could talk to anyone.
As the kids continued to struggle, our social circle narrowed; running the kids to doctors and counselors, and praying for peace in playgroups, it was hard to relax long enough for meaningful conversations. But somehow slowly, slowly we became a family, and these two little kids fulfilled their special calling, teaching me the wisdom of today’s Gospel: Be merciful. Stop judging. Stop condemning. Forgive. See the gift.
Some days seeing the gift isn’t easy through the snark and smartassery. Some days there are tears are tears of joy … and others, tears of frustration. Each day became a series of little good-byes as they asserted their independence and my husband and I anticipated our own … until my own mother’s decline presented yet another special gift: a chance to take care of her the way she took care of me. Now at last God is giving me a chance to be another kind of mother: a mother Just. Like. Her.
Heidi Hess Saxton
Lord, Help us to see the gifts in our lives. Amen.