A little over 10 months ago, we signed our hearts away with an electronic signature, a long list of life answers, and a small non-refundable application fee. What started as a pinprick of a hole in our family has slowly morphed and changed into a small child-size void that can no longer be ignored. This shadow follows us everywhere – sometimes it is a bright reminder of what’s to come, other times a ragged, gaping hole of what we are missing. One thing that we have not done for the last ten months is physically prepare our home, and our belongings for a new addition. I have seen families who spend the entire waiting process readying a special space, excitedly picking colors and patterns, daydreaming murals and laboring hours painting and prepping, gathering and meticulously arranging a safe haven, a welcoming space personalized to this new child they have yet to hold.
At first, when we began the process, things moved so quickly we were trying to wrap our heads around where we would put another bed, what areas we needed to purge of useless junk, what color scheme, what decor choices, “gosh I gave away all of Braeden’s too-small clothes! We’ll have to scrape together another little boy wardrobe!”, etc. etc…our heads swam with an overwhelming mass of details and we were feeling rushed to smash all the pieces together at once. Over the past 5 months, however, the pace has slowed, and we have hung all the “details” in our mental broom closet, to collect cobwebs until the ideas and plans are really warranted. We have forced ourselves to slow down, we have fought against the urges to pick up little things here and there that Little Man would be sure to love when the time comes. We have held it all at arm’s length – I think unconsciously, because we are reaching the painful part of the wait. And, if you don’t have a constant stash of physical reminders that will smash you full force in the face as you round a corner in the house, or open a closet door, or pass a bedroom in the shadows that is decorated for someone who does not reside there – if you don’t have the tangible reminder of your pain – somehow it seems a little more bearable. A little less real, a little less raw.
Our family passed a rack of little shoes last night. These little fuzzy felted boots just jumped right out – somehow all of a sudden they were in my hands – and you all know the statistics about touching something in a store. If you actually hold the item in your hands you’re about 217% more likely to buy it…oh well maybe that statistic is just mine. (go figure). But these shoes just said “pick me! pick me!” I looked all through the racks and there was not another pair like them in any size, on any shelf among probably 900 children’s shoes (if you’ve been to Nordstrom Rack, you know I am not exaggerating). I looked at them, and picked them up – they were soft, and had almost a warm worn feel to them – and all of a sudden I just imagined little brown feet slipping inside them – 10 little toes wiggling, stomping through grass, and slapping on the sidewalk, little shoes that stop every few moments to seek out a new creature crawling next to them that their feet have never seen before…little feet that walk shyly just behind mommy’s or daddy’s big feet – crowded in close – toes clenched because they are overwhelmed by the faces or the noise, or the colors in the day. Shoes that at the end of a long day sit underneath the new bed of a sleeping child who lays his head down on a pillow and dreams of the fascinating wonders that accompany his new world.
I brought those little shoes home. I took a photo to document on our blog, and then I placed them on our entryway table along with the black and white pictures of children from our orphanage. I can’t shake those shoes. In a way my heart hurts more to see them every time I pass through the hallway – that constant reminder of what is not here. A reminder of the painful silence of the phone not ringing, the silence of no new information, the endless “any day now” expectation that has gone on for almost 5 months, in that sense – they are simply a pair of hollow, empty shoes. But on a brighter day, in a more peaceful moment, when I can see the joy in those shoes, they allow me a different sense of tangible hope that those shoes belong to my son. The excitement of little feet – the soft soles experiencing the wonder of pavement and bright green grass, of fuzzy carpet and soft, clean sheets. The promise that someday, even if it takes another two years (God forbid), the thunder of four sets of little feet running through the hall will wake me at 5:25am on Christmas morning, and I’ll find a foreign pair of muddy socks in the wash, puzzled until I remember that the boys (plural) ran through the muddy grass to jump on the trampoline in the pouring down rain. The toe-tickling, giggle-enhancing rhyme of “This Little Piggy”, and two little brown feet tangled up with brother & sisters’ feet as they bury in the sand.
The reality is – I don’t know if they will fit. The ONE pair in the entire sea of shoes was a size 11.5 but I couldn’t leave them there. The miracle to me will be if they fit him like Cinderella! 🙂 But it marks a new way for us to meet this wait head-on – confronting tangible hope and tangible pain and using them both to build up our family into a strong fortress to surround a little Haitian boy in unconditional forever love.
Today is Sunday. Every Sunday this is my mantra: “Tomorrow is Monday. In Haiti, IBESR opens again for the week on Mondays. Maybe this is our week!”
Lord, we pray for a miracle.
Thank you friends, family, and strangers – for joining our journey, for contributing financially, for praying without ceasing, for encouraging, for entertaining, for your distractions and your direction. We are so thankful for you!