You know sometimes, out of the blue, something unexpected can happen that touches your heart so deeply that you are left with your faith in mankind reaffirmed. Today at church, my dear friend Mary came up to me and handed me a small gift wrapped package. When I looked at her askance she said "It's for no reason at all, it's just because I wanted to". I had no idea what had prompted this, but of course being the Curious George that I am I just couldn't wait to get home and had to open it. As I carefully unwrapped it I found a children's book titled "The Red Blanket" by Eliza Thomas. I had never seen this book before and I began to flip through it, skimming it quickly...and then a bit more slowly, and then I couldn't help but read it word for word as I tried to hold back the tears. This was our story, one I had never seen really put so simply into print. It is about a mother adopting a daughter from China who has difficulty attaching at first, just like Josh. The vivid, simple and accurate portrayal of the lack of trust, the inability to make eye contact, the uneasiness between mother and child despite their desire to let go and love was so spot on that I felt like jumping up and down and shouting "See! It wasn't just us!".
In the story, the girl was comforted by a red blanket, and the parallel to Joshie's own blue blankie was uncanny. It became a rag, quite literally unrecognizable as a receiving blanket at all. It was so scrap-like that I had two other moms present me with gently worn replacements that we all hoped he would take to, but NO WAY was he going to accept a substitute! In what was one of those sad little milestones in our lives, Josh lost his blankie in a gas station somewhere between here and Denver this past summer. In some silly way it made me a bit sad to lose this particular precious piece of his childhood. I could so easily recall seeing him sob in his sleep after having woken up 7 or 8 times a night, but being able to be lulled back to sleep by having his blankie snuggled right next to his face, wrapped tightly around a fist. That blankie served as a sort of symbol of his relationship with me, what had started out new with so much hope attached to it had become torn, ragged around the edges and yet finally held tightly close to his heart...just like our love for one another. And an even greater expression of just how far our relationship had come was his reaction when he lost it, 2 1/2 years later. He easily transitioned to another blankie this time, all the while hugging me solidly around my neck. He was finally ready to let go, because he no longer needed an inanimate object to hold on to, he had Mom now to make him feel safe.
Mary's gift and expression of celebration of our adoption of "T", secretly named "TJ" between she and I, was more than just a little gift. It was like having someone silently and invisibly stand next to me with her arms around my shoulders the next time someone asks one of the inane and intrusive questions I mentioned in an earlier post. Someone understands where we are coming from in all of this, someone doesn't think we are stupid, irrational, or naive. It was one of those quiet ways that special women in each of our lives have of offering encouragement and support without a lot of fanfare. It meant the world to me. And as I curl up with Josh on my lap and we read this book together, we can identify with everything in it and know that we have met the challenge of letting go of fear and pain caused by others, and allowing love to enter our hearts when others thought it might prove impossible.