A long awaited visitor… and unexpected gifts.*
*(Otherwise known as a ‘what’s new: my life edition’…)
If you are a long-time reader, you may be aware of the fact that not only am I prone to social anxiety, I am not a fan of transitions either.
Therefore, as you might guess, I am not a fan of the month of January for that reason.
But this year, no one is more surprised than I to realize that I am looking forward to 2019….and looking forward to this new year enough to mean it sincerely when I say those words.
You see, as I said in my previous post, 2018 brought me lots of busy….and as usual, some of it wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun.
I know, I know, you can’t appreciate the sunshine unless you’ve had some rain, but yeah… there was a lot of rain.
But then…something unexpected happened.
Something so unexpected that in the 27 years since I’d prayed for this thing to happen….
I’d almost given up on it ever happening.
It wasn’t a prayer for myself; it was, oddly enough, a prayer for this man that I’d met (that I was still two years away from marrying)
who began patiently waiting for a phone call
and then, heartbroken, awaiting the visit
of the visitor who never came.
Meanwhile, in the intervening years, the name of this long-awaited visitor was never far from this man’s heart (or his mind,) even if his name was spoken less and less…
Because, simply put, when things are what they are, there’s really no use in dredging up past pain just so you can drown in it.
Especially when you know that you’ve done your best — all you can do is to keep the door to your heart open.
So that’s what he did.
And that’s what I did too because I began hoping too …. and keeping the door to my heart open in solidarity with this man.
And the years passed.
Sometimes, he would tell me the stories, or we would look at some old photos, and he would speculate what he would say, what he would do if he got that phone call, or if the doorbell rang…
And things started happening between us two! — and we made things happen too.
It was all the typical things you’d expect to happen :
We moved in together. We got married. We had a child. We worked. Our child grew. We lived in apartments. We had another child. We bought a house. We celebrated and we mourned and we argued and we laughed.
And the not-so-typical things:
I joined the Army. I left the Army. We moved our little family three states away, down south. We spent two years at one address, three years at another, and then we moved back home up north again.
Then my husband became a ‘road warrior’ – traveling all over the country while I worked part-time and raised our kids where-ever ‘home’ happened to be, and my husband (and their father) came home on weekends.
Several more years passed and my husband got a government job, living and working in DC, and I would visit him with our kids during school vacations.
What a pair of strange nomads we were, moving away and back again at least a half dozen times more, each time further and further south. But then again, each time, we’d return north again, to our home state, like bouncing magnets, like stars to a fixed pole.
Each time we returned north, we wondered….
Had we missed that phone call?
Did we miss the long-awaited visitor?
Perhaps we’d made ourselves too difficult to find?
So we settled down.
We marked ten years in one state.
We marked five years in one home.
Next thing you know, our oldest child graduated high school.
We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.
Our youngest child learned to drive.
Meanwhile, his name would come up once in a while. And as the years passed, it didn’t hurt my husband as much anymore to talk about him.
My husband wondered how he was doing.
I wondered if he had a family of his own now.
We both wondered if he knew that we had ever existed.
And then, my husband received a phone call around 9:30pm on December 7th, 2018 – from him.
Our long-awaited visitor.
At first, I admit that there was a lot of awkwardness.
Next, there were the ‘prepared’ questions…. and the ‘long-anticipated answers.’
And yes…It was so much more than everyday conversation.
You see, my hope, my prayer from 27 years ago had been:
Please may that little boy look for his father one day….
Please may he call on the phone…
Please may he come to find V…
And a few years later that hopeful prayer became
Please…may he come to find us someday.
And here they were: the answers to our hopes…and the long-awaited response to that prayer of so long ago…!
I am not ashamed to admit that after a moment or two of utter speechlessness,
V and I both burst into tears of overwhelming joy.
You see, he told us of what he’d been told.
He told us how he had wondered.
He told us that he had been looking for us for the past 6 years.
He didn’t know for certain what our last name was until three months ago.
And we found out that he still lives in New England – still living mere miles from the area that our hearts would’ve called ‘home’.
He served two tours of duty, one in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq, and he is a decorated war veteran.
He has been married for 10 years, and he and his wife have three children – two sons and a daughter.
And if that wasn’t enough of a gift – to hear in his voice that breathless mixture of relief and joy at having finally found his father at last – it was even more so in that he wanted to meet us.
I’m sorry, but is it OK? I don’t want to be pushy. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to find you….
So he flew down to Florida to spend New Year’s Eve with us.
And it was amazing and it was wonderful….and though it was 27 years in waiting, it was one of the sweetest moments of my life to see my husband V finally embracing that boy – his son (!) – at the airport gate
It was truly a wonderful, beautiful way to end 2018!