Sometime in late January 12 years ago, an infant was abandoned behind a building in Uralsk, Kazakhstan. Left in the bitter cold, his cries alerted a passerby, and he was found and brought to safety. A police officer or social worker named him and assigned this anonymous child a birth date of December 26th. He was passed from maternity hospital to orphanage, where he was still relatively anonymous and just "another baby" to be wiped and diapered.
In November 2003, Joshua Aaron LaJoy was anonymous no more. He became The Beloved Child of Dominick and Cindy LaJoy, and the dearly treasured brother of Matthew, and eventually Kenny, Angela and Olesya. More than any of our children, Joshie has suffered and endured the incredible emotional loss of abandonment and knowing that no one wanted him. He has heard thoughtless strangers ask if he was "one of those kids thrown away in a trash can". He has fought and won a battle to allow others to hold him and love him, and now seeks comfort and nestles within the arms of his parents easily, willingly, joyfully.
You were so beautiful, Joshua...so very beautiful to me.
On this, the day we celebrate his birth, and though we know someone didn't want him, I can't IMAGINE my life without Joshua...his inquisitive nature, his heart, his beautiful smile.
Today he stands before us a strong, healthy 12 year old young man on the brink of teenage exploration. He has always been our wise little old man, a 50 year old in an elementary aged boy's body. He is a contrast in so many ways. How many then 11 year olds would want to read (and truly enjoy) the Notebook with their sisters? How many could accurately label themselves and consistently articulate a political mindset as a 9 or 10 year old as well as my little Libertarian leaning young son does? How many 12 year old boys would beg for anything Frozen and gleefully thank you for giving them an Olaf stuffed animal for Christmas? How many then 11 year olds would so responsibly set their own alarm to awaken at 4:00 AM, shower, and be ready waiting for their dad to take them to work for four hours each Saturday morning for four months straight...and never once over sleep or need an adult to nudge them into getting moving?
I have loved every single stage with you, Josh!
This year was the year for him...the year his body began the process of changing from boy to man. 3 pant sizes and one barrel chest later, no longer do I feel I am holding my little boy, but instead feel that the roles have been reversed and that I am being held by my young man. The deepened voice singing Jingle Bells all year long (Ugh!! Haha!), the shoe size larger than Kenny's, and the need for daily use of Strydex all signal the end of my parenting younger children, as Josh steps firmly into the next phase.
It took me about three years to be able to have Josh accept my touch, so damaged was he by the Original Loss of being abandoned by his birth mom. But when he did finally give in and accept the love offered, he fully embraced it and we made up for lost time...and continue to do so. There are no words to express what it feels like, even this past Sunday in church to have his head rest upon my shoulder as he lovingly reaches out in ways to physically connect to me. We both almost missed that, and we will forever treasure our ability to love one another fully and without reservation, because it signals a healing that quite literally might not have happened had we both not hung in there with one another. Joshua, I will never tire of your hugs, or your reaching out to hold my hand. I know we have already begun the years long transition that will see our roles reverse from me taking care of you, to you taking care of me. That we can both rest in the knowledge that each will always be there for one another is a victory unlike any other in my life, and in yours.
My sweet boy, how I love you! Daily, you amaze me, as you easily keep up with your siblings in school and often challenge them to think differently. Hearing you play superheroes out on the trampoline, I wonder how much longer you will have one foot planted in childhood when the rest of you is racing so quickly toward adulthood. How I will one day miss hearing your sound effects!! Haha!
You wanted to marry Mommy!
Already, I know I will have to craft a different sort of path for you for high school, as this sixth grade year has you gaining high school credit in classes like US Government (And boy, do you know your government!) and you begin Algebra 1. Secretly, I look forward to that last year or two of school with you, where my "caboose" and I can study anything we want and sit side by side reading and thinking together, just as Matthew and I get the privilege of doing right now. Your volunteering at the library has you bringing home stacks and stacks of books to read or flip through, as you love visual encyclopedias of any sort. Your future is wide open to you, filled with possibilities, and lately you have seriously discussed the possibility of being a fireman or EMT, career choices that would make so much sense for you as you are not easily rattled and have an inordinate amount of common sense and the ability to handle...um...shall we say "gore" that others can not...and besides, everyone knows all fireman are adorably handsome, that would fit you to a "T"!! :-)
My tender hearted son, how I love you with all my heart! You have changed my life and who I am in so many ways, and I am so grateful that God brought us together. You are my youngest child, my "baby", and you will always be that to me even when you are 6 feet tall and towering over me! I eagerly look forward to watching you continue to blossom into full manhood, and to accompany you as you move toward your future. You bring me great joy, Josh, and I love nothing more than to spending time with you...and I always will look forward to the little things you email me :-)
The coming year will have you settling into this new stage of life, and you will begin to understand things about yourself and about the world around you. You will have many new insights as awareness grows, and I have no doubt you will continue to shower everyone around you with your gentle and giving spirit. Happy birthday, my sweet son...my little guy...me dear Joshie. I love you more than all the stars in the galaxy, and all the grains of sand on the beach :-) Beat you to it! Biggest, longest hugs to you, my amazing Super Hero!