Two Dates

Got’Cha Day: January 23, 2013

I don’t do dates. Most of the time I make up the date to head my notebook page or log my entrances and exits in and out of buildings. The significance, for me, usually doesn’t lie in the date or the number of years or the counting down or counting up. The significance is the memory, the story, finding the present through remembering back and looking forward.

Still, this past weekend held two dates that cling a little tighter than others.

January 23 — The first day of forever with Jay

January 24 — Nate’s birthday

This pairing holds all of the emotions that can’t be contained in a heart. It’s the hard and sweet all wrapped up together.

Jay was 7, almost 8, when he came home. He lived most of his life in foster care and although he never said it, I’m sure he wondered how long he would live with us.

Forever meant months, not a lifetime.

January 23 marked two years that he has been an Ayres. It’s not quite forever, but forever is becoming a possibility.

It’s also a milestone for his momma. I think Year Two is the hardest when adopting older children. Year Two is when this momma isn’t quite sure she can out-love the hurt. Year Two is when family is still new enough that it might not hold forever, but routine enough that a child is comfortable pushing to see if this family will be forever.

Year Two is over and I breathe a sigh of relief.

January 23 holds more than hurt, it holds celebration. January 23 is Jay’s Got’cha Day. “Got’cha forever,” we say and he smiles. There is healing in that smile, security in beginning to believe it is real. He really has a family who will still be with him in a week and month and another year.

“You’ll take me to college, right Mom?” he asks.

“You better believe it!” I say. “But I might have to stay with you, because I won’t want to leave you.”

He looks at me for a minute, thinks about it. “I’ll make sure to hug you big and we’ll visit, but I don’t think it will be okay for you to stay at college.”

I give him sad eyes.

“You don’t have to be sad, though. There’s this kid in my class and his brother is in college, but lives at home. I might do that instead.”

I smile because I love that staying home sounds like a possibility to him.

Then he says, “But when I join the Marines I can’t stay at home and you can’t come with me. We’ll have to say good bye then. But not the forever kind of good bye. The good bye that means I’ll be back and still love you.”

January 24 holds gummy worm brownies and breaks my heart. Nate was our friend and the summer he was 20, his heart stopped unexpectedly. I’ve written often about Nate, curating the posts as a bittersweet celebration last summer.

Our family ate gummy worm brownies beside a pool with Nate on the last day his heart was beating strong. We celebrate Nate on his birthday, eating gummy worm brownies. We remember how he lived strong and real. We remember how he laughed unabashed and loved people even though they were imperfect. We remember how we are better off because we loved Nate.

Each year, at the end of January, two dates cling and remind me facing the hard is a worthy way to live life, because celebration hides on the other side of the hard.

Summer 2010

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