Simon was running up and down the fence like a possessed dog.
"Wow, you've got a great looking boxer!" the gutter guy exclaimed. Just as he finished complimenting my insane dog, Honeybee walked out the back door. "Oh! you've got two! One of the foster homes where I lived had an amazing boxer. I loved that dog."
Somewhere along the way in his childhood, he experienced profound loss and trauma.
We talked about how great boxers are and in general, dogs. He told me he has a boxer/pit. He told me how much his dog loves his 8 month old baby boy. His first child. Pride beamed from his eyes.
We continued with small talk as he cut the gutters for my house. I felt like I was supposed to ask him more. So I did.
"How long were you in foster care?"
"Nine years. The first family I was with abused me. It was a f#cked up situation. From there, I was in and out of different families and group homes. When I turned 18, I messed up and went to prison for 4 years. But I learned a lot from my time in and I knew I never wanted to go back. If it weren't for the last foster family I was with, I would be in prison for life. They never gave up on me. When I got out, my dad helped me get this job. They allowed felons to work with them. I started at the bottom, but I've been with the company for 3 years now and I've worked my way up to cutter. I've got a stable life now for my son."
I couldn't help it. The tears just fell.
We started talking about the system and how flawed it is. We talked about how he had hoped for seven of the nine years that he would get adopted. That never happened. We talked about his family's struggle with addiction and how he's lost 9 family members to drugs. He told me that he was one of the lucky ones because 88% of foster kids end up in prison for life or worse.
Through my tears, I shared with him my heart for the girls in India. I shared my heart for children to be in families. I shared with him the adoptions of my two, beautiful girls and how close I am to bringing Jujube home. He told me about how he watched a documentary on the red light district in India and how messed up it was the way those women and children were treated. He told me he watched the whole movie. We agreed that absolutely nothing comes even close to replacing family.
The foundation for every person's life. He told me how as a child, he saw his mom pass out from heroin every single day. He told me that there ain't no way his son will ever know that feeling.
I believe him.
When he talked about his sweet, baby boy, his whole face lit up like the sun. So much love for his child.
He went about his work quickly and efficiently. We joked about how old my gutters were. We talked more about dogs and how they just have a sense with people. We talked about how dogs have been there for both of us in ways that people could not. We talked about the love and protection they offer us. We talked about how this will be his baby's first Thanksgiving and Christmas. He told me he and his girl aren't buying him any gifts because her mom is going to spoil him rotten. He told me that his baby is loved by everyone. He told me that his son is named after his brother who passed and her dad who passed.
As he finished putting away his tools and packing up the truck, I needed to say one more thing to him.
"B, thank you for sharing your story with me. You have really touched my heart. I can't begin to grasp all of the pain you have experienced in your life, but what I can tell from talking to you is this: you have wisdom most people never gain in their lifetime. Even though it came at such a horrible cost, what you have is a gift. Your life, your love and dedication to your son, the way you talk about your future - it's a beautiful testimony of overcoming all the odds. I am blessed to have met you today. I will be praying for you and your family. I'm very happy for you that you get to have these firsts with your precious baby boy!"
Tears running down my face, we hugged it out. He thanked me for the prayers and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. He told me that he hopes I get to travel soon to bring Jujube home. He got in his truck and drove away. I immediately went inside and called the company. I asked to speak to the manager and proceeded to gush about what a fine employee they have and what a great job he did today.
The manager was quiet for a moment. He told me that they never get calls like mine. He thanked me and told me he would pass it on to B.
I hung up the phone and prayed. I prayed that God would bless B and his family. I thanked God for crossing our paths. I thought about all of the people with whom we come into contact and how connected we all truly are.
I thought about my Munni Bird and Roopa Joy. I thanked God for the miracles he performed to make us a family. I thanked God for Jujube and prayed for that day to come soon where we can all embrace each other and boldly proclaim that we are family.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours :)