This weekend we had a reunion. It was the best kind, where nobody was showing off, and nobody dreaded being seen as a loser, the very thought of such a thing, in the context, being preposterous. It was the kind of reunion that makes people wish they saw each other more often, and regret having missed other reunions.
It has been ten years since the event that brought us together: adopting our babies together in China. I wrote about my personal memories of that here.
This weekend we met in a small town about an hour away from where we live, further for some of the families that came. All weren’t able to make it, but for the five families that did, it was a joyful weekend.
I have to confess here that though I travel for various worthy purposes, some work related and some personal, I’m not much of a traveler. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy seeing new places; I do. Especially in retrospect.
The highway is a scary place for me, and I white knuckle every time we have to merge, change lanes or a truck passes by. So you can imagine that my knuckles are pale a lot.
So let’s just skip over that part and go right to a B&B rollicking with five families and nine kids chasing each other, laughing, using a carpeted staircase as a slide, romping, frolicking, surrounded by love, by parents comparing notes, hardly reminiscing at all because the present is so present with our children.
When we first met the others in our traveling group, we had so little in common that I felt like an alien on an alien planet. Going to China was less culture shock. But over time, something unexpected happened.
If you look at each of these children running up and down the stairs of the B&B, you’ll see their spirit shining so bright, the light shines right through the exterior of the parents, making a thin shade of all those things we usually look for to separate into us and them: geography, religion, education, style, politics, class.
Instead what we see are the hands that wipe a table after a meal, the heart that speaks of night time with a scared child. In this light we hear each other in a way that ought to happen more often, goodwill passing over all those things that are essentially superficial, allowing us to appreciate each other, laugh together, share food, share stories, sympathize, have fun like our kids in the other room, running through to crash into us from time to time.
We met through a longing to have kids, we come together again and again to share the experience of love and the hard work of rearing our children. There aren’t any Nobel prizes for that. But I know that there ought to be medals, however a family forms, for that plain and honest work.
Those of us who didn’t start out in our own lives with the love that every child deserves know what precious and important work that is. And those of us who had to reach beyond our own biology to find the children of our heart know, too, what precious and important work that is.
We didn’t take life to be famous or rich or noteworthy. That’s what we are reminded in the blasting light of our children’s spirits. This is why we are here: to love. And to see each other as loving beings.