Honest Open Arms

by Steve

It was Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of my favorite books growing up, who once said: “Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.” I am thoughtful of that today as we start a new chapter in our home and also in our hearts by welcoming someone new into our family.

The opportunity came to us a few months ago: A 16 year old exchange student living in Germany was searching for a host family in America. The girl—we’ll call her Z—has type 1 diabetes and, according to the area coordinator, was diagnosed around the same time as Lia in 2008. Franca and I talked about it and thought Z perfect for us, and thought us perfect for her, too. We could only imagine the great opportunity her coming here presented, but also the obvious conflict of a teen with diabetes leaving home for a year. With Z’s courage and our experience, it seemed a perfect match.

So the waiting is over and as I write this she sits in a plane somewhere high over the Atlantic, as nervous, excited and hopeful, I assume, as we are after all these many weeks of waiting, exchanging emails, chatting through Skype and Facebook. Today, we finally meet.

There will be a lot to learn for her and for us to learn about her, and while certainly diabetes will be a part of that—just her coming here serves as inspiration and reminder that there is nothing in life save our own fear and self-doubt capable of holding us back—there is so much more to share. About our language and where we live. About family and trust and goodwill. Already the girls and Franca and I have spent time talking about who we are as a family and what values we find important. About sharing our selves with someone else. For days now, we have been ready.

I have always used this blog as a way of culling through the little and big things life throws at us, beginning and mostly surrounding Lia’s diagnosis, using words and my writing to search for some understanding, some clarity, and maybe, perhaps, some direction. It has helped me discover things about myself I didn’t know and on other occasions it taught me nothing at all, just offered a glimpse into the peaceful, happy life we know and strive for, which on second thought, now that I think about it, standing here on the day we open our arms and our hearts and our home to another says a great deal after all.