Seeing the Belchers again was like walking in the back door after a long time away. All of us have aged some. Our bodies a little plumper, hair a little grayer. Six months cancer free, Laura looked happier than I've ever seen her. Long, tall Robert is not too demonstrative, but I got my hug, and several smiles. At one point I apologized for sharing so many baby photos and stories but I couldn't help it cause that's all I had. He said, I've grown up a lot since then!" Yes, I had to give him that.
As graduations go, I think this one could be categorized as short and sweet. No long speeches. Just enough pomp and circumstance. Robert's graduation gave me a reason to list all the things I learned from him. Such as:
- I learned to look at the world through the eyes of a curious little boy.
- I learned to stand still so others might have the joy of discovering ... a rock, or a pumpkin, or a statue.
- I learned the it’s only fair for everyone to help with a 10 second tidy.
- I learned, unless I wanted a kitchen full of “snow” not to turn my back on a small child and a bag of flour.
- I learned not to call you Bobby.
- I learned it was not a good idea for me to jump on the trampoline.
- I learned to listen for the sound of garbage trucks.
- I learned the importance of long showers, bubble baths and soft sheets.
- I learned there is no limit to the number of times one can watch “Swiss Family Robinson.” Mark of Zorro,” “Air Bud” and Dave Hood’s “Real Wheels - There Goes A .....” videos.
- I learned the land of make believe, where knights slay dragons and pirates bury their treasures, is quite real to a small boy with a big imagination.
- I learned Sam is the not the only one who doesn’t like “green eggs and ham.”
- I learned that any day can be a pajama day.
- I learned that cowboy boots are an important fashion accessory even if they are three sizes too small.
- I learned even the smallest puddles make big splashes.
- I learned to touch snakes.
- I learned Florida’s scraggly pine trees do not make the best “cut your own” Christmas trees.
- I learned not to wear a hat at the beach on a windy day.
- I learned that “quite the cherry” has a much nicer ring to it than “quite contrary.”
- I learned the way to drive a boy crazy is to insist on taking his picture on the first day of school.
- I learned to check the temperature of the water before putting a nekkid-assed baby in the tub.
- I learned that adoption doesn’t mean giving up, it means giving to.
- I learned I’ll never pass by a pumpkin patch, see a monster truck, eat Japanese food, or hear the theme from Cops without thinking of you.
- I learned that saying goodbye, makes saying hello again that much sweeter.
Pretty incredible list, don't you think?
I finally got to meet Robert's birth mother and his extended family. I'd told myself if the day ever came, I would express my gratitude. The last night in Virginia, I was able to look Chris in the eye and tell her how her decision to let the Belchers adopt Robert affected not only them but me. It was a gift. We'd had a not so great adoption story in my family so being a part of Robert's life, and seeing how adoptions can work was healing for me. It was a brave thing Chris did.
I waited for 18 years to say thank you to Chris. I wanted to say it in person. Perhaps I should have written the words much earlier. I'm reminded that sometimes we carry thoughts around in our head waiting for the "right" time or place to say them, but for reasons beyond our control that time never comes. I was lucky.
If you've got something important to say to someone important, don't wait.