Thanksgiving Bread Crumbs

Thanksgiving Eve MMXV

While Jimmy and I were in the midst of the adoption home study process, we navigated a truly intense exploration of our backgrounds and childhoods. Our precious social worker lead us through an intimate analysis of our motives to adopt.

It was exhausting but enlightening and it lead me to a contemplation of my own openness to this child across the sea whom I have never met. I am in awe at the way I recognized her as my own without any hesitation at all. That seed of love could have only been sown by God.

But I have been reflecting on how God planted this seed within me. My Goddaughter, Ashley, recently wrote to me, “God speaks to us in different ways. He speaks to you in ‘bread crumbs’. He knows you will analyze the past in order to see your path to the future.”

I have been contemplating the bread crumbs that have lead me to the adoption of this sweet baby that God spoke into my heart. Their trail clearly leads back to the grandfather who adopted me, my “Uncle Niam.” I am confident that the place in my heart that is capable of loving Song-Felicity no differently than I love her siblings was cultivated and prepared by the way my Uncle Niam loved me. He was my grandmother’s cousin but always so much more to me. When my life was touched by loss and crisis shortly before my third birthday, Uncle Niam stepped in to tend to my heart as it broke for the first time. He continued to tend to it tenderly until he was called home to heaven in my early adulthood.

He told me our story over and over though I knew it by heart. The very closest person to my toddler heart was, without question, my maternal grandfather…my “Poppy.” I remember clearly the time and trauma surrounding his death though I was not yet three years old. And I remember when Uncle Niam walked into the kitchen door of my grandparents’ home shortly after he learned Poppy was gone. I can still feel the relief I felt seeing him there. He scooped me up into his arms and I buried my face into his chest and cried. I looked up at his face only long enough to ask, ” Will you be my grandfather?” His answer: “I thought I already was.”

And he was. In every single way. At every ballet recital, every Christmas program and every birthday dinner. He was at my bedside when I awoke in the hospital with a broken arm and in Gainesville hosting my college graduation luncheon at the Wildflowers Cafe that I loved so dearly. He memorialized events in my life by adding charms to my charm bracelet and adding beads to my ” add-a-bead” necklace. I was never one bit different to him than if I had been born of one of his children. And he always beamed recalling how he was “chosen” by me.

When my Daddy had official-looking adoption papers drawn up to memorialize him as our grandfather, we gave them to him for his birthday, I believe. I remember him sitting in our living room and weeping as he read them. As a young child, I did not understand his tears…but oh how I do now!

And it is so intimately beautiful to me that his life is still giving to mine because he left me prepared to love this tiny girl no differently than if I had carried her within my own body. He prepared my heart to “love without borders”. He was an intimate witness in my life to this kind of love and he taught it to me so very personally over and over and over again. I had no idea what being loved by him was preparing me for. I only knew, and know even more now, that being loved by him was precious and lovely.

What a gift…to be loved so strongly and so deeply that it truly transcends time and the grave and spills over into the future and across the sea! I feel him in my heart and life as much as ever and cannot wait to share his glorious way of loving with my daughter on the way. He stepped into my life while I was still only 2 to care for the pieces of my tiny heart as it broke in a very big way. Song-Felicity will likely be almost precisely this same age when we get to her. I already ache to scoop her up in the same way and tell her, like he told me, that in my heart she has always been mine.

My bread crumbs certainly lead back along a very clear trail. And the trail always finds its origin in the same holy and glorious example.

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