Thursday, January 24, 2013

Born


Today I poured the cereal, packed the plastic drill for show-and-tell, wrote the query letter, practiced the spelling words, roasted the cauliflower and watched gymnastics practice with a red paper bracelet wrapped tight around my wrist.

It's the kind of paper bracelet that won't fall apart if you wear it in the shower. It crossed my mind to cut it off before I hopped in. But I chanced it, it survived and now I don't know when I'll take it off. I want to hold on.

They handed one to each of us yesterday afternoon then sent us through the security gates and into the heart of the jail. For months I've sat in the waiting room with the rows of chairs bolted to the floor and the video-phone booths. But I stepped across that threshold, walked alone with Cory down a long stretch of institutional gray, everything a hard edge, everything an assault on life and joy. A knob of heartbreak lodged low in my throat, and I kept on walking.

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. It was also Robert's 19th birthday. Through the best-ever turn of events, we were granted a face-to-face visit with him, so we scooped it up and ran. 30 minutes to sit in the same space with him, study his face, hug his neck.

We walked into a small room, they locked the door behind us, and we walk back out four hours later.

I loved this boy from the first time I met him, on his 17th birthday, wearing short sleeves in the snow.
I loved him more when he sat on the other side of our dinner table and passed the mac & cheese.
I loved him when I took him to the dentist for a check up. 
I loved him when he disappeared for 7 months and I worried about him every single day.
I loved him when he came back without an explanation. (I loved him when I realized I didn't need one.)
I loved him when I drove him to his boys the day they were born.

I loved him.
I love him.

But I knew I was in trouble when I locked eyes with him a courtroom. I knew there was no going back when I had all the facts and none of them mattered.

With every letter, every call, every minute spent looking at him through the janky jail video phone, that love went deeper. With every unexpected tear I sobbed for him, the happy ones and the sad ones, the anchor sank.

So we said all the things we needed to say, and we said them with nothing in between us. We said some hard things, lots of honest things. We talked about ashes and beauty. We told him the truth about our love, and though it hadn't been a secret, we all felt the crisp edge of brand-newness ricochet off the walls of that little gray room.

He gave us some things in return, things that stay sacred. His love rained down on us in the form of trust, trust as raw and infant and beautiful as the trust of our other three kids when they knew that they were ours and decided it was good.

They brought him a dinner tray, let him out for a bathroom break, and every time, every single time, the officer looked at him like he was special because he is.

He showed us his biceps, his tattoos. He leaned in when it was important to listen, his dark eyes steady as the walls around us. He entertained us, impressed us, cracked us flat up.

We made our promises and he made his.
He hugged us so hard. (no tazers!)

I will never make sense of the brutal life he was handed. I'll never lose faith in the God that preserves a boy's joy and spirit in spite of all of it.

I don't know what I've done to deserve my perfect-for-me children. I'll never understand the way God can gather a family from the far-flung corners and wedge us so tightly together that it physically hurts when one of us is missing.

The future looms blurry and uncertain, but in the precious gift of four bright hours, everything that almost existed snapped into focus and found its home.

In those hours, in that dreary cinder-block room, our child was born.


56 comments:

  1. Reading about your love for Robert (and his love for you) always moves me so.

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  2. I swear that you are the only person who understands me and Sabo at all. Love this, love you, love your heart and Robert's!

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    1. Cannot even tell you how often I think of/pray for Sabo. And you. xo

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  3. SO glad for your extended time with Robert! Your post has moved me....deep!

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  4. tears here, sister.
    praise jesus for hearts like yours. i love you!!

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  5. Wow. Kinda speechless... But sooooo love his, yours and His story. Love.

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  6. My favorite post you've ever written.

    Rejoicing!

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  7. so beautiful! Now I hear Francesca Battastelli's "Be Born in Me," and I understand it on an even deeper level than I did during the Christmas season. I love that you now have four children!

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  8. I have only for a little while been visiting you here in your blog home and each time I come here I am blown away by how you love others and give of yourself. I have linked through your posts in reading about Robert. I have been inspired by the love that pours through your words for him and that comes perfectly from the heart of the One who made him and brought you to him so that he could receive that perfect God-given love. I pray for you all as you continue down the path of faith that allows Gods light to shine through you so very brightly.

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  9. This sounds so much like when our boy was born, at 13 years old, cursing at us in a children's home living room and he was already mine, even if it would be two more years before it happened. So precious that you captured those hours and let us live them with you.

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  10. so beautiful my friend
    what a unique story of a family
    what a miracle

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  11. Just weeping here. Shannon, these stories are beautiful, because they are true.

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  12. What a journey... what a story... and your beautifully written words take us along with you! I think that's the amazing thing, we get to see it as it unfurls and develops.

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  13. Crying in the morning can be a good thing, right? It's so evident that God planned that visit. Thirty minutes turned into four hours? Hallelujah! Love your heart and how you have presented Robert's heart to us through your words.

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  14. How God can make 30 minutes stretch into 4 hours thrills my soul. He can. He does.

    Obviously, you know I am a sniffling mess now. We need to sit down and talk about our kids. I have 36 "Roberts". Amazing how they all fit, how there was room for every single one.

    xxoo

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  15. This has been a beautiful thing to watch unfold, this love for your biggest boy. You are Psalm 68:6 for Robert. Thank you for sharing a little bit of him with us too.

    (so thankful you got your face-to-face, taser-less visit!)

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  16. That was so beautiful. May all of you continually feel God's love, strength and peace flowing through and surrounding you.

    FlowerLady

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  17. I feel privileged to read this story of love. Thank you for sharing. Thank you to the One who makes such love possible because He first loved us.

    Deb Weaver
    thewordweaver.com

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  18. What a beautiful illustration of God's love reaching through you. So much good can be born in hard places! So glad that your visit was so wonderful and life changing! And glad there were no tasers involved. :)

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  19. I just keep thinking...why do I not have a Robert in my life? What if we all had a Robert? What if every Robert had a Martin?

    Thing is, if I'm honest, maybe I do have my very own Robert...and maybe it's time to let him know.

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  20. Yesterday was my birthday too!! I didn't realize that I shared it with Robert - that's special!!! And are you telling us that it was "supposed" to be 30 minutes and God gave you 4 hours?????!!!!! Oh my that's incredible and that's just like Him <3 What a beautiful retelling of a special birthday gift, not just for Robert, but your big ole' momma heart and Corey too!!!! I'm smiling so big for you!!!!!!!

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  21. I have never commented here before. Yours is the only blog I read that I also read the comments to. I just need to tell you that THIS is your best and finest. I am in tears, because I, too, have come to love Robert. He is in my prayers and I am sooooo glad he is yours and you are his. What a very,very,good God we have. Thankful right along with you!

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  22. I love your heart. I am so thankful that he has you and that HE has you. You and your family are such a blessing and so inspiring.

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  23. I adore Robert! You're a lucky gal.

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  24. I can so much relate to your Robert Stories. They touch my heart, my soul, they give me hope. I visit my adopted mentally ill daughter in prision. Your words and love inspire me. Keep on sharing Sharon

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  25. GOD is GOOD ALL THE TIME! Praising HIM for such a sweet visit! Now lifting you all up in prayer for a miracle for Robert!

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  26. Ahhhh, so sweet. Praise The Lord!

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  27. Oh the aching of a mothers heart....I cry for you and for him.
    But part of those tears are happiness, for he has found a family in your heart. THAT is why there is a God and he loves in mysterious ways...Thank you so much for the Robert love - XOX

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  28. ok, I'm just going to read your posts before I put on mascara from now on. So glad you and Robert got to have your visit. So beautiful, redemption is the best.

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  29. lovely, lovely! i am so glad robert is knowing Jesus through you two!


    and query letter?! oh ya, i caught that! woo-hoo!

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  30. i'm kind of speechless....
    yet, here i am commenting....
    to say,
    i adore your heart.
    and how you love.
    and how He works in such miraculous ways.

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  31. You are so full of love.... what a wonderful extended visit. You are a blessing.

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  32. Your posts this week are achingly beautiful. This one moved me beyond words. Love grows to fill an open heart.

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  33. Beautiful! I think this has been one of my favorite posts! Keep that heart open so you can teach the rest of us how to keep ours open too, even in the hard edged, ugly times.

    Blessings and hugs!

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  34. Beautiful! I think this has been one of my favorite posts! Keep that heart open so you can teach the rest of us how to keep ours open too, even in the hard edged, ugly times.

    Blessings and hugs!

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  35. Beautiful! Please keep your heart open and teach us how to love our "Roberts" better too!

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  36. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to post multiple times- my computer is "helping" me :)

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  37. He is lucky. And so are you! I don't mean 'luck' either. God has given you to each other.

    1 Corinthians 16:14

    You and Corey ARE love. The gems that you both will have in your crown when we all get to heaven! xx

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  38. your heart for your kids...all four of them...rocks me to the core.
    i love that robert has favor with some of the officers...that they know he's special.
    praying more and more favor on his life..
    praying he trusts his story...praying he becomes more and more clear in his heart and mind that God has had a plan for him all along...that God has always seen him...that he is in engraved in the palm of his hand. praying like everything that he knows that he matters to God...he is not neglected by God...he is not rejected by God.

    praying he comes to know God as defender...protector...healer...forgiver....redeemer.


    praying for you and Corey as you love him and care for him and pray for him and get to know God in ways you never would if Robert weren't in your lives.

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  39. What a blessing to 'read' and witness joy in the midst of pain. I share the excitement and sorrow of celebrating 19years with my our latest addition to the family, face to face yet without freedom. My prayers continue to go up on his behalf and I have faith as you said that God HAS and God WILL "preserves a boy's joy and spirit in spite of all of it."
    Loving each of you in a special way!

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  40. God bless Robert. Hope this year brings more unexplained miracles and love into his world. Thank for sharing him and opening my eyes/heart better to all God's children.

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  41. I took some time to read back through your blog to try to understand more concretely what you write so beautifully about on your blog. Thank you for serving your savior and putting your journey into words. I am inspired by your courage and faith.

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  42. You're going where God is going!! I love that you brought His light into such a dreary place, and His love into a heart that needs it!!!

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  43. Love this. Love that he's part of your family. Love that you're showing him the heart of Christ. It will be a privilege to see what God does in his heart and life in the years to come.

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  44. I've just spent the better part of the afternoon thumbing through here to catch up on Robert. Wowzers. And the way God turned 30 minutes into 4 hours, fogetaboutit--that's HUGE!

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  45. so lovely I really like it just like flowers in my garden

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  46. oh girl. this made me cry. this kind of love, it's from the father, for the fatherless, and he places the fatherless in families, and gives the barren women children. he is so good to us, to all of us. your Robert is my Jessica, the mother of the two boys we took care of last year. there's no turning back. they're ours, friend. forever.

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