This Christmas some of our best friends hosted a Colombian orphan through an amazing program with Embraced by Grace. I knew we were going to love whom ever was brought into our lives, but I didn't really know how much of an impact they were going to have on us. They got word they would be hosting an 11 year old boy. We prayed for and helped our friends as they got ready to host this child. Again, never expecting the outcome we received.
Finally, the day got here that Jean Carlos arrived. Joy had told me it was a rough day with all the logistics of picking him up from the airport, but they were still on for dinner the next day. Monday nights are our weekly dinner with this family and we were excited to meet this new addition. He was quiet and shy and a little timid. Jean Carlos spoke no English and even when AJ talked to him in Spanish he was very reserved, until after dinner.
After dinner Jean Carlos bonded with Drew. They chased each other, they played catch, they laughed and giggled as only little boys can do. Jean Carlos carried Drew around like he was his own personal doll, and pushed him in his car like it was the best thing ever. Jean Carlos gave us some of his first truly happy smiles while they were playing that night. I got a few quick pictures of them (I can't post pictures of Jean Carlos for safety reasons and as part of the rules of hosting him) and they were cute.
After that first night Drew was hooked on Jean Carlos in a way I haven't seen him attach to any other child. We would go to Joy's house and he would hunt him down to play. They came for dinner and Drew would drag him into the backyard. It was a friendship that didn't need words on either boy's part. The laughter and the giggles were all they needed.
Needless to say, that short three week period they had Jean Carlos passed way to quickly with all the events of the holidays. Thankfully, Jean Carlos got to spend some fun times at our house and Drew at his. The last day that Jean Carlos was here I made sure to take Drew over for a long play time to say goodbye, even though Drew didn't know what was happening. I got lots and lots of pictures that play time. I captured all the smiles and happy memories that I could. I knew that my heart was breaking that he was going home. I was so sad. Joy was sad (please read this link, she puts into words things my heart can only feel), but the boys were happy.
The first day we went to their house after Jean Carlos left Drew hunted him. Drew finally stopped looking for him when we said he went "bye bye". That was hard. How do you explain to an 20 month old that his best friend is gone and probably forever?
On some level I hoped Drew would forget and move on, because it is hard on me and makes me cry. On other levels I don't ever want him to forget his first real friend. I am glad I leaned towards the second option. I have printed pictures of Jean Carlos for Drew. He finds them occasionally and carries them around.
This morning was the hardest one yet. Drew found the Christmas card we got from Joy. He kept pointing at Jean Carlos and making his "where" noise. I can't answer that. I just kept saying, "Jean Carlos? Yes." He finally looked up at me and said, "Jean Carlos". Tears just streamed down my face. Drew isn't a talker yet and him saying words is a fairly big deal. Him deciding that Jean Carlos was worth the words is even bigger. He put the picture into his little car with him and drove him around the house, then went out on the porch and sat on the glider. He sat there pointing at the picture and just babbling to him. I wonder what all he told Jean Carlos this morning?
I wonder if he told him about the Valentine's Day craft we made this morning and putting his hands in paint? I wonder if he told him all about his new car? I wonder if he told him about all the fun new things in the backyard to play on? I wonder if he just told him how much he is missed? I wonder if he told him to just come back?
|Talking to Jean Carlos|
This is love. It is pure. It is painful. It is messy. I am so thankful when my toddler teaches me about love in ways that I forget. I am so thankful that Jean Carlos was in our lives. I am thankful we got to love him even for a short while and that his memory is here with us.