One would think that living in a house with five young men and a young woman and only one bathroom, would be chaotic and unnerving. Not so. Not when love prevails. I loved my Navy babies and they loved me.
Each morning the house where we stayed would be filled with a rush of activity, laughter and love.
Beginning at 5:30, I would rise, and fill the house with the aroma of coffee and biscuits.
Wei would be the first to wake. Barefoot with a towel wrapped around his waist, his first stop would be in the kitchen where he would kiss my cheek, grab the cup of coffee I had prepared for him just the way he liked it and head to the bathroom.
CJ and Mouse would be next. CJ, standing over six feet and solid muscle, full of energy, would rush into the kitchen, grab me by the waist in a massive bear hug and swing me into the air, round and round, until I would pound his shoulders playfully and tell him to put me down. CJ enjoyed talking as much as eating and kept up a running dialogue, teasing the others and reliving the drinking parties of the night before.
Mouse, so handsome, would stand at the door of the kitchen and wait quietly, until his presence was acknowledged with my “Good Morning, Son.” A product of the foster care system, he would never dream of reaching for his plate of eggs and biscuits. Sitting at the kitchen table, he ate his food slowly and as his way, quietly. He had the healthiest appetite of them all yet would never ask for seconds. I would simply refill his plate and watch in satisfaction as he ate every crumb; only then would he drink his juice.
Job, the youngest and smallest of the bunch, would receive the brunt of CJ’s teasing. Initially, he had a little difficulty understanding how to cope with CJ’s insults. With some coaching from me, he was able to match CJ’s unbridled wit with some prime insults of his own. Proud of Job, I would laugh and laugh as they traded insults at the breakfast table. Once he got the hang of it, sometimes he was able to shut CJ down, which was no easy task.
Chula would be the next to come into the kitchen. Not a morning person, she would scowl and roll her eyes at the guy’s antics. Serious and focused, she didn’t have time for games. Her concern was making sure her military uniforms were exact, every strand of her luxurious hair was in place and her boots were shined before she stepped out the door. Generally she only wanted coffee so typically I didn’t cook enough for her. When she wanted breakfast and there wasn’t enough for her, she would storm out of the kitchen with a torrent of Spanish words that only Son understood. As soon as she rounded the corner, we broke out laughing. But she was our doll baby and we could do that..in love.
Last but not least was Son. Grabbing an egg and biscuit sandwich and a cup of juice, he would plant a kiss on my forehead and head for the door, toothbrush in his mouth and uniform rumpled where he had picked it up from the floor tossed from the day before. Son was always the last to wake up, because he didn’t want to go. I would send one of the others to his room to pound on his door and make sure he was up and dressed.
As he went out the door, I would stop him, turn him around to face me, and holding him by his shoulders; I would tell him what I always said to him as a child before he left the house. “Remember, you are representing your family and more importantly Christ. Do good things today, Son. You are covered by the blood.” A man of few words, he would look at me, nod his head and be gone.
I had always wanted five boys and one girl. For the few months I stayed there, that’s exactly what God gave me. I so enjoyed them. I loved them as my own. Son brought our multicultural family together. His heart was big enough to share his Mom with them and that is what I became for them.
When they left for the day, when the house was quiet, it was my time, my time to pray for them, to lift them up to Jesus and cover them with His blood. They each sought time to be alone with me to share their stories; reveal their fears, frustrations, and joys. I would bring their concerns to the altar, my heart heavy with their pain, angry at satan for hurting these beautiful children at such a young age. How I wished that I could promise them that nothing would hurt them again.
I pray for them even now..I want so much for them.
In April, it will be a year since I left my Navy babies in Virginia. Just recently, Son told me of the day I left.
He told me that as I drove off, they remained on the porch and for over thirty minutes, not a word was spoken by either of them. They sat in silence, in mourning. For me.
What they don’t know, what they may never know is that they gave me so much more, than I could ever give them.
Love given freely and unconditionally heals a wounded heart. Their love and laughter was the healing balm I needed to begin this journey.
I carry their love in my heart. Grateful for my experience. Thankful for another opportunity to love and be loved by family.