"Eight and ten!"
I said it at a funeral today. A sweet friend from high school died suddenly last week. At the service, I looked around and saw so many people from that time in my life. I was surprised at how emotional I became...
I saw a bit of gray hair, a few wrinkles, and some scars on all of us.
I watched as my late friend's precious mom and brave daughter spoke courageously in front of everyone there. My heart simply ached that one of them lost a son and the other lost a dad. That life is so fleeting, so fragile. That we are not promised tomorrow.
"Eight and ten," I answered, when a former classmate asked how old my children are. "My daughter is eight, and my son is ten."
But the other day, I stopped in my tracks. "Eight and ten" was answered back to me.
I was meeting two foster children, a little boy and a little girl, for the first time. We are featuring them on television with the hope that someone will adopt them and give them a permanent home. I kneeled down so that I was eye-level with them....
"How old are you?" I asked. The girl said, "eight!" ...and the boy immediately followed, "and I'm ten."
It wrenches my heart every time I meet a foster child. ...that no one wants them, that no one could get their behavior straight enough for them...
But this time, eight and ten.
The little girl grabbed my hand to go play while our photographer recorded video. I asked her if she wanted to be adopted and what kind of family she wanted. I couldn't help but think, what if someone asked MY daughter if she wanted to be adopted and what type of family she wanted? My God, she's only eight! She would have no clue what to say!
The boy was a little guarded. And again, I couldn't help but think, my son would be TOO if some TV woman was asking him if he wanted to be adopted. This poor child is ten!
I sat there in the middle of our taping, with lights on these children, and my heart broke into pieces. I wept inside for the woman and mother too broken to take care of them on her own. I cried inside for the two of them left to feel as though no one cares enough to bring them in, leaving them in the care of the state.
And I thought quietly of my own two children, growing up in this big-bad-world, wondering what pain they might encounter, what life holds for them, thinking of the joys I pray they will experience, frightened of the heartbreak they will endure.
At my high school friend's celebration of life, the reverend said something like, "let us not shrink away into our sadness, but instead stand united in love." I thought back on those years when we were so young and so full of promise. I looked around at the gray hair in the room that meant we cared at some point, the wrinkles left behind from the laughter, and scars that showed we've truly lived.
I thought of those precious foster children's smiles, their hope, no matter how diminished, that a family will come and prove that life is good after all.
I thought of my own children and their friends at the horse races this past weekend, jumping up and down and screaming for the horse (named after my daughter) to win. The memories they are already creating...
"let us not shrink away into our sadness, but instead stand united in love."
That horse named after my daughter placed, by the way. You could literally feel the bliss... and savor the moments of "eight and ten."
8-year old Claniya and 10-year old Dayelun
My children (and friends) cheering at the horse races
Hall High School alum at Deno's service