Our kitchen was the backdrop for a young mother and the only blood-relative she has in the world, coming to see if our offer for shelter was real. She spoke of struggles and stressors which would break the best of us. We know that these are not her first. Her two decades of life have seen more loss than most of us ever will. What a contrast this little bundle of joy is as he sits on my knee and stretches to see everything new. He is so cherished by her…really, he is the only thing that is truly hers. She has kept him safe. No one celebrates her accomplishments. She speaks of him with pride. No one speaks of her with pride. She needs to be kept safe. We try to let her know that she is safe here, that she is welcome here. We hope to earn her trust and know that she has been taught to resist trusting. Our life is changed forever by getting this little window into her story. We see her and we value her. We want her to know that she is loved…I am moved to tears.
I drove the newest member of our family to the airport to travel across the world to celebrate Ramadan with his family. His story is one of loving family, opportunity, education, faith, tradition and belonging to a strong-knit group. He came to our home as a scholarship winner, the pride of his parents and his seven brothers. He can comfortably sit and share cultural differences and practices which he has been steeped in and can trust that we will accept him. He may have worried that we would find his culture strange. He knows that some hate hm without even knowing him. His short time has shown him that we see him and we value him. As we say goodbye, he hugs me tight. He says ‘i love you’ as he walks away…I am moved to tears.
We went to two graduations tonight. One was for those that no one ever thought would graduate. This school was their last chance. They have been told many times that they have no promise, no worth. The room was buzzing with babies and toddlers and mamas and grandmas shushing them. Colorful balloons and gas-station flowers wrapped in crinkling plastic sat on laps with stuffed animals for those who had made it despite all odds. Families did not wait politely for pauses to clap. Speeches were short. Names were called out from the crowd with screams of pride. This moment was not in the cards for these people. No one thought they would be sitting in that room watching these young people graduate. This school gave them a safe place to try again. They were seen and known and valued. This gave them what they needed to succeed….I am moved to tears.
Our son’s end-of-the-year concert came in the most usual form. We sat and listened as the different groups marched on and off the stage. As the girl’s stood and sang, I notice one on the end who shows the familiar signs of down-syndrome. She sings on and off. She looks into the crowd to try to find her people. She fidgets with her robe and listens distractedly for her cues. People sitting in the audience watching her were surely told that this moment would never come. They have probably pushed open many doors which wanted to be closed to them. I can imagine the advocacy and care that must have proceeded this seemingly-unremarkable moment. She is surely so very loved. It is a joy to see her here…I am moved to tears.
This was just one day. These are just excerpts from four people’s stories. There is power in peaking into the lives of others and seeing where they have been.
One of the groups sang John Legend’s song ‘All of Me’. I can’t help but think of how fitting it is:
‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
These four lives need love. They need all their curves and all their edges and their perfect imperfections to be loved. We all need that. They need to have someone give their all to them and then they will give their all….I am moved to tears.