Tonight, my husband and I were watching a documentary on HBO that told of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life just a few years before his assassination. His life was narrated by the people who worked alongside him. One of the major events that Dr. King had gotten involved with was the Vietnam War. He was opposed to the war and there was footage of speeches he had given at that time, as well as a clip of people yelling hateful things at him as he walked by because of his opposition to the war.
It made me think of my father. He fought in the Vietnam War. And as I watched the footage of what was happening in the United States during the war, I imagined my father on the other side of the world at that exact moment in time, experiencing the horrors of war. As I thought of him, and pictured him in the same war situations he has described to me in previous conversations, I marveled at the fact that I know how his life turned out when he got home from Vietnam. While I don’t know every detail of his life, I know what he has told me, and I know that I am here, a living testament to the life he went on to live. He was only just 18 when he joined the army. He would have had no idea about his future wives and children at the time, as none of us do. We don’t know our futures.
And yet, I am amazed every day when I teach the pre-teens in my English classes that I have been a teacher longer than these children have been alive. Right now, my future students are learning to crawl, saying their first words, and experiencing a host of other firsts–first time walking, first time trying certain foods, etc.
On that same thread, somewhere, there are other children being born. These children will be abandoned by their biological parents. Perhaps it will because their mother is a teenager and cannot take care of them. It could be because some disturbance in the family has caused child services to take them away from their parents. There are so many reasons that children end up without their parents. These children will be placed in foster care, or they’ll be put up for adoption. They might be placed in a group home or some other home where there will be other children like them. They might be scared, or lonely, or simply angry at their surroundings. Their physical needs will be met by those tasked with their care, but they may not have the kind of childhood that would produce happy memories for them. They won’t know what the future holds for them. None of us do.
These children are not my students, they could be in the future, I don’t know. But these children, the ones without a home, without a family, these children need to just hang on, because I’m coming. WE are coming.
My husband and I are working hard to make sure that in a year, we don’t have a need to sign another lease on this tiny apartment. We are working hard to make sure we have a home for these children.
Easter just passed us by, and God willing, there will come an Easter when my husband and I will sit around our kitchen table and dye eggs with our children. I’ll show them the neat way my grandpa used to color eggs using a damp cloth and egg dye tablets. We’ll take them to Mass with us and teach them about Jesus and what Easter really means.
There are so many things I want to do for our children. I want to teach them to knit, and introduce them to my favorite movies, and torture them with music from my generation like my mom did when I was a kid. I know that my husband wants to take them to Jones Lake like his dad did. He’ll want to take them to Bear Island for the day, again, like his dad did. Most importantly though, I just want to be there for them. I want to give them a stable home with two people who may not be their biological parents, but are people who love them as if they were.
Somewhere, right now, our children are waiting for us. Several years from now, I’ll look back on this moment–I’ll think back to this cramped apartment–and I’ll marvel at just how different our lives were before our children entered the picture. Until then, we’re waiting too. But the time is coming soon, we love you already, but please, just hold on, we’re coming.