Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why Life Really is Grand

I love my Papa Smurf in a Toy Train life.

He turns up in my kitchen and I didn't even hear him clacking down the rails. I didn't even know there were rails.

I just never know what might happen around here, but a solid seven times out of ten, the surprise is one that makes me smile.

I wouldn't have scripted this life of mine. This heart could not possibly have been inventive enough and I would have grossly underestimated my bravery.

But thanks be to the High Heavens, it wasn't up to me to decide.

I come in from a whirl-wind trip and stay the next entire day in my jammies. I tote Silas around like a happy monkey boy and bake peach cobbler at 10 p.m.

One day later, I invite Ruby's birth family into my kitchen and there's no tip-toeing around, no awkward silences. We have cut our groove. We are family, and our heart-beats sound awfully alike.

What a surprise.

This is proof that you might think you know the span of your own bravery, but as surely as we huddled together around paper plates of cheese and pear cake, in our stocking feet, you do not.

We wrapped our too-short time up in a loose bow and the sun hunkered down around us, en route to a different surprise: Dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Well, that's no big surprise.

But our dinner date was brand new. He was 17 and dressed up in a shirt emblazoned with pistols and a skull, his jeans down around his hips, his phone a compact security blanket.

He had never eaten in a restaurant where they bring the food to you.

He had steak at our urging, and then dessert, because shouldn't everyone have cheesecake to celebrate their 17th year? We thought so.

He was infinitely more out of place than I have probably ever been.

But he answered our questions and before long, he asked a few of his own. His shy eyes kept careful watch on all of us, on everything. He took it in and I swear I saw a real smile once or twice - a real one.

You think you know how brave you are, but you are wrong, because there are families stitched together across this world by ribbons of trust, and there are teenaged boys walking through life with an absence of tangible love, celebrated by almost no one.

All of them choose to see beyond what closes in around them. They go places they never thought they'd go. They trust in a way they never thought they'd trust. Love is made real to them in ways they would have never dreamed, all because they were braver than they knew.

And so are you.