I want to tell you a story about receiving a gift worth more than anything I could ever afford or repay. I will never own it, though it was given to me, and I suspect it will bring as much pain at times as it does joy. I choose this story as a way to tell you about myself because the gift was of such magnitude that it reached way back to become a part of my past and stretches as far into my future as my breath.
When I was twelve I saw a program on tv about children in Chinese orphanages. This is where the Giver began. My heart gained a foreign apparatus that day, a vice that squeezed and choked when I considered helpless little love-cravers alone in their cribs. I’ve never been someone who just can’t get enough of children (you know who you are, envied beings). Truthfully, I can’t think of a more tiring or mind numbing activity than spending a day with a gaggle of kiddos. But, oh boy does my heartbeat quicken to the sound of suffering. I met my first love that day in front of the television set, Justice. I can’t stand the thought of people, tiny or full grown, living without freedom or love. Or food.
Then there was the year we sat in a class. I raced out of the office each Tuesday and Thursday so I could learn about children experiencing the worst kind of loss. I wanted them. Drug addicted tiny bodies, years of love needed to make up for months without. Take a test, open up home and soul, then wait. There was news that our bodies wouldn’t be able to produce what I had always taken for granted. The Giver lavished on us grief and disappointment that would change us.
We had moved on, just barely. Just far enough for me to learn that a pregnant belly is not a right of passage. It’s not a mark of womanhood that I could only achieve through nine months of widening. It’s a gift and it was given to us that same year. A phone call from Dr. F, a well timed research study covering all expenses, months of grueling procedures involving Petri dishes, and I’m a mom.
My twelve year old self didn’t realize it at the time, but I began to mother then. I learned there were weaker people in the world that needed my strength and love. I didn’t know that every time that vice squeezed my heart over some hurting soul and it wasn’t crushed, that I was stronger and more resolved. I look at my two littles, conceived by some miracle of modern science and a Giver over all, and I see how my heart has been with them from the beginning. I think of my other child that I will one day have, not from this body, and I remember that I’ve met him before. He’s the one that taught my preadolescent self that I am responsible for the weak and unloved.
I think that is why we do what we do today. My husband is a pastor, he has been one since birth I think. We love people and believe that we are all teachers and learners. We moved from New Jersey two years ago where our neighbor was the Mexican immigrant, the homeless, the college student. We live smack dab in the middle of Burlington now where our neighbors are still college students, but also refugees. We constantly find ourselves being drawn to the fringe of society, which is the place where we discover the Giver the most.
These words are lovely and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself with us!