You are amazing. An Anomaly. Dad said so just the other day, talking to someone at a wedding.
Four and a half years you’ve been here in our country. Four and a half years you’ve been here in our home. A fraction of a lifetime. But a lifetime of change.
You were shorter than Ingri the first time we met you. We have pictures to prove it. Ingri who stands about five foot nothing. That was Camp of Dreams, and for the next thirteen months I’d dream nonstop of Two Skinny Brothers, waiting in Colombia for us to bring them “home.”
You had a home there. You remind me often. And I know. I get it. A Mom. Foster in name, but the real deal in all the ways that matter. Her love was real, and I’ve always been grateful. So. So. Grateful.
Next week, Tuesday, you’ll board a plane, destination Yopal. Your first time back since that January day, a lifetime ago. A lifetime and twelve inches. I keep trying to imagine what Doris will think when she sees you. Towering above her. So tall and so handsome. A little boy when you said good-bye. And a rascal at that. She told me as much, over ice cream. We sat across from each other at an outdoor table, someone translating. I don’t remember who. But I remember Doris. Wise. Devoted. No-nonsense. Love.
You’ll need to keep an eye on Jimmy. The foster mom looked right into the eyes of the rookie. And no kidding.
Keep an eye, and no wonder. Those first days. Those first days were hard. Hard keeping an eye on a kid who’d up and walk home from wherever he was no matter the weather if he made up his mind. Hard keeping an eye on a kid too cute for his own good, and every girl knew it. Hard keeping an eye for that rough patch when guys will be guys and prone to trouble. Early on I learned it was God’s eye on you, and not so much your Mama’s.
But now. Lately. Lately I’ve had my eye on this kid turning young man, and OH WOW. Just wait until Doris sets eyes on you.
Finished high school, and with flying colors. Heading off to college this fall. Playing soccer. Dating Sidney. (Of course, the dating won’t be such a big surprise for Doris, based on the stories you tell about all those Colombian girlfriends.) But this is different. A lifetime different. I can’t wait for Doris to see it, too.
Will you go to church with Doris? All those stories you’ve told me about your church, and how it was there you first encountered the Spirit. Baptized here, but awakened there. I always wished we’d ignored the rules of those Bienestar ladies who said we shouldn’t go. I’d like to have gone to your church. And for some reason, church is the one thing you haven’t really found here. Which might surprise Doris. And sometimes, to be honest, it surprises me, too. Not that church is the only evidence of a heart’s devotion, and I see your devotion. But yet. If I could wish for something, it might be this.
And yet. You do know the love of your Father. Your Heavenly Dad who loves you to the very heavens. (More even than your earthly one who writes you letters and gives you a home and pays your tuition.) Your Heavenly Father has kept His eye on you every single one of your nineteen years, and He has plans for you, for a hope and a future.
Jimmy, you’re an Anomaly. A new word to add to your English. You are a person who defies the odds, and does the unexpected. The rascal kid who turns out to be an honorable young man. The rebel teen turned respected adult. The scared little boy whose heart is transformed by a life of love.
Next week you’ll go back home to see Doris, your Colombian Mama. I can hardly wait. I’m excited for her, and excited for you. But know this, too, Jimmy. Here. In Minnesota. There’s another Mama who’s waiting for you.
I love you, son, with all my heart.