Friday, November 29, 2013

Brotherly Love Looks Like This

I am finding myself swallowing the lump in my throat this evening, for tears come surprisingly unbidden as I edited more photographs from yesterday's quick photo session.  I glossed over them last night, in an attempt to get to the "important" ones...the more official group portraits I was hoping to get.

Oh, how could I have not seen this last night?  How did I overlook these gems?

We are a unique, oddball crew, we LaJoy's.  We are mismatched, stared at everywhere we go for our differences.  We can most often be found laughing, and many have no idea how to take our twisted sense of humor.  What to an outsider's ear sounds a bit harsh is hilarious to us, mainly because we have been intentional about viewing our misfortune from a place of acceptance, and we have worked hard to disengage from the old wounds, to stop picking scabs, and now can point at the scars and laugh about them.  Where once we were hollow, we are now filled...and what once cut to the bone now, thankfully, is a place we can point to with pride in healing.  Others don't get that, but we do.

Every time we have added a child to our family, we have had to justify it to others.  Every. single. time., even the first time.  When we discovered that our third child would not be the younger girl we had thought we might find, but instead was a much older special needs boy who would put us all out of kilter because Matt would now be "out of birth order" and Kenny would usurp his place as the eldest, everyone thought we were nuts.  Everyone, that is, but our wonderful social worker who knew us very well, and said only, "I trust your judgment completely, you think it will work, and I believe you...I think you can do anything!"...and thus we made the decision to go with what God was telling us, and mess with the whole idea of  "the perfect order in which to adopt". It wouldn't be the last time :-)

From the very first moments with Kenny, any lingering doubts were quickly cast aside.

The first 5 minutes after meeting...a strong indicator of what was to come...

As we adjusted to Kenny's presence, his orphanage behaviors, his sweetness, his Chatty Cathy ways, Matthew stood back and with his usual aplomb just let it be what it needed to be.  For a very young child of only 7, Matt's quiet confidence was present even then, and he allowed Kenny the space to grow into his new family without challenge...and from the beginning Kenny just automatically deferred to Matt.  Though 7 and 8 years old, the word "Grace" fit on both sides.  There were no battle lines drawn, there was no jockeying for position or status.  It was God led all the way, with Josh being the beloved little brother for both.

Time passed, and the relationship blossomed.  There was rarely a harsh word, there was unspoken compassion for all the disabilities that eventually revealed themselves to be part of Kenny's life challenge, and  snuck up on Matt as well.  There was laughter, Legos, and life lived with the ever present security of a brother who always had your back...on the playground as you were teased for being different, or at home when you needed help remembering to brush your teeth or find your jacket.

This wasn't supposed to work.  It had all the signs of a total train wreck.

Somehow, all the "experts" ended up being wrong.  Had we listened to them and declined to adopt a special needs child out of birth order, so much would have been missed!

These boys were meant to be brothers.  They couldn't be less alike, and yet, there is a common thread binding them to one another that perhaps none of us really understand.  

They adore their little brother, and each would do anything for him.  They protect him, and help him feel safe when he feels uncertain, scared, or is haunted by the past that effects them differently than it ever did Joshua.

They have their dad's sense of humor, and they can be as goofy as can be with each other, playfully teasing one another yet never going too far.  One is concrete as can be, the other abstract.  One is introverted, the other Mr. Personality who doesn't know a stranger.  Theology grabs hold of one, while aviation is the passion of the other.  Total opposites...and yet...and yet...

They make a GREAT team!

They are not rivals, they are brothers.  They were meant to be together, these two so different.

They patiently awaited their new sisters, wearing pink in solidarity!

They've shared holidays...

They've shared homework...

And they've even shared underwear!

The support they offer one another is might seem one offers an assist more often than the other, but when around them a lot, it is easy to see how it goes back and forth between them.

Matthew and Kenny LaJoy,  born into circumstances that would affect them each profoundly, each a beloved child of God and of their new family.  Brothers not by birth, brothers who had no say in the matter, who were forced together by some force greater than any of us.

It shouldn't have worked, but it did.

Fast forward 7 years.  Kenny is 15, Matthew is 14...the younger brother who still somehow managed to maintain his place as the eldest, not by aggression, but by quiet compassion.  A different child would have rebelled, and a different child coming in would have challenged.  Instead of mortal enemies, they decided to be friends.

I looked at the screen and saw their faces, so, so dear to my heart. When I sat down to edit these, I couldn't help it, photo after photo from the past come rushing to the forefront of my mind.  I think that even I had not fully realized what had gradually developed right before me all these years.  I can hear their giggles, deep and resonant now that puberty has arrived.  I see their joy, their comfort with one another.  I see how their strengths and weaknesses compliment one another, as sometimes one takes the lead, and other times the other steps forward...all in unspoken unity.  They are far more men than boys now.

They are gentle, and good natured...(they also treat their mom like a queen!  Undeservedly, I might add...)

They are companions on the journey, debating and exploring...a true Mutt and Jeff!

They are total hams...

And the only one who thinks they are funnier than anything in the world, is the one standing right next to them!

They rough house and strategize, they dream and imagine.

They are brothers, blood or not.  This is what true brotherly love looks like, and as the years pass, it only grows stronger and runs deeper. Two young men, a few years away from full manhood, but both already strong, capable, and freely affectionate in only the ways the most confident in their worth can be.

They almost never had one another, their paths crossed only due to the quiet little whisper in the ear of a yearning mom one night as it said, "Trust in Me, all will be well...I have a plan you can't picture yet." 

This is what brotherly love looks like.  It is beautiful, it is precious, it is priceless.


Joyce said...

Love love love love love this post - and I want scream that from the roof tops.
Love us

Lindsay said...

Cindy, i started following along on your blog before Kenny came home. What a beautiful journey you have shared. Thank you. And what wonderful young men.