Dear Little One,
I guess, now you have been home for 163 days. I still think about you. I can only imagine all the new things you have learned and experienced in the last 5 months. I wonder if I would even recognize you as the same child today. I still see you in my dreams, how you were then. I see you as tiny and fragile back when you still needed me.
I think about where you live now. How you have learned to love and need someone new. I think about those incredibly lucky people who get to hold you every single day. I think about each and every one of you often but today, July 4th I think specifically about those of you in your American homes. I imagine how proud you were to ride your red tricycle in your local parade and charm the crowd with your precious face. I wonder if you loved the fireworks, or if you were scared. I wonder if you struggled to stay awake long enough to watch the “grand finale” I wonder when you will realize the importance this day represents, when you will realize what “American” means.
Baby, I remember January 30th of this year. I was still so upset that I was not in Haiti, I didn’t want to do anything in the outside world. I hated facing the questions everyone bombarded me with when I left the house. I had been invited to speak at a local hockey game and reluctantly I agreed to go. I didn’t realize the meaning I would find in that night. I stood holding my new little brother as he experienced the national anthem for the very first time. I got goosebumps.
What does it even mean to be an American? To someone born into this world maybe not much. I’m sure we have moments of breakthrough where we really see how blessed we are but for the most part we don’t recognize the honor that it is. To you and to someone who hasn’t always known this life it means so much more.I have had situations when I walk down the streets in Haiti and a woman tries to give me her child. “Are you American?” She asks and when I respond she thrusts her infant into my arms. Sh begs me to take him to this place she has heard of, this place that had so much to offer. It’s a life that your parents wanted more than anything for you. It is the place they imagined on the nights they lie awake, missing the sounds of your quiet breathing and sighs. It is every reason they made the choices they did for you.
There is no question of “if” in your life now. It is not “if” you go to school but when. No “if” you eat but what. Not “if” you grow up but what you will be when you do. You can be anything you want to be, you can do whatever you can dream of. Whatever your can imagine can be your life. I pray you won’t ever take that for granted! I pray that you will take advantage of every opportunity that has been handed to you and make a life that would make them proud.
Tonight I watched a fireworks display that took away my breath, accompanied by songs with lyrics explaining a life I have always known. I wondered why and I fought not to allow the feelings of gilt that so often overwhelm me. I chose, instead to search my heart. To allow the question of why, and to answer it. The answer I have some up with is this…I was given the opportunities I have, to do something amazing. From those who have been given much, much is expected. I was not given this life to sit in a comfortable box and enjoy, I was given this life so that I would know how to give to others. I was given the opportunities of my childhood so that I could return those blessings to the children I have been entrusted with. It is not an assignment I take lightly and I pray you won’t either. I pray that you will recognize, as I have, the gift of the life of an American child. I pray you will embrace it and take advantage of every moment.
You are precious to me, to the parents who hold you in their arms, and the ones who hold you in their heart. You are my sweet American child.