Dates in time are interesting things. Each day is its own date, yet some carry more weight and value to people than others. We all have birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates that we hold close to our hearts. Outside the usual, I have a few special ones.
September 3, 1995 – I first stepped foot on Chinese soil with my family
September 2, 2009 – I met Ira
May 16, 2013 – I met BenJi.
When I picked him up and held him that day for the first time, he looked up and into my eyes, and from that moment, our souls were connected.
Two years. Seven hundred thirty days ago we met BenJi for the first time. He was a tiny, beautiful, and incredibly loved boy. We met him that day, but we had known him for some time. You see, in late January that same year, God placed it on Ira’s heart to begin praying for a little boy. BenJi. She didn’t know it was him, but she began praying, faithfully, intensely, daily.
For a little more than three months leading up to BenJi’s birth, as she tucked Free into bed, she would pray for an unborn, unnamed, unmet BenJi, for safety and health as he grew, grace and wisdom for his birth mom, and for all of our hearts as God might choose to intertwine our lives.
Shortly after BenJi joined our family, we learned that his birth mom had been actively using hard drugs when she got pregnant. She stopped using three months before he was born. BenJi was drug-free at birth, and we brought him home from the hospital. Ira’s prayers had been heard.
Two years later, our family is broken. Yes, broken-hearted, but broken also in the truest sense of the word. The most simplistic of daily routines and functions have to be relearned. Meals must be eaten, chores must be done, bills must be payed. We each have our roles, our jobs, our responsibilities…life continues forward at the same pace as before, and does not wait for you to start wanting to live again. Time moves on. Life moves on.
And yet…we are unable to. We are frozen in the same time that refuses to stand still.
Had you shown me this picture years ago, and told me that this would be what my family looked like, I would have wept for joy. Now I weep, because no matter how many times I look at my family, and coach myself beforehand, I continue to look, and continue to look, and continue to look.
I’m trying to find BenJi. And he’s not there. He’s not here.
Ira looks for him. She still prays nightly for safety and health as he grows, grace and wisdom for his birth mom, for all of our hearts and that God might choose to intertwine our lives once more.
Free looks for him. He asks where he is, and then asks why we can’t go see him at “his other mama’s”. He says “BenJi’s not coming home” and then looks at Ira hoping she’ll say he is. He ignores his favorite bedtime story books because they remind him of so many hundreds of nights that his brother would sit next to him listening with equal fervor to those same stories. He won’t sleep in his bed because he wakes up at night and BenJi is no longer across the room from him sleeping peacefully.
One date. Two years apart. Indescribable joy. Earth-shattering pain.