By Mira Krahn
I was looking forward to this winter. My winter a year ago in South East Asia was cold, but lacking the clean, fresh look of piled snow. I love the silence in the air when flakes fall at night. I love the crisp crunch beneath my boots. I miss the winter walking I did as a university student, parking far away to get a free spot. I love feeling hardy once I escape the cold, mascara smudged and hair frosted.
This week hit a windchill low of -40*C. The next day had freezing rain. On that day, I offered to drive home one of the childcare workers at our kids’ daycare, to spare her the walk home. Since then, I’ve given her a second ride, and it’s given us time to get to know each other. I shared with her that we have a foster home; she shared that she had been a foster child. I know God arranged for the freezing rain.
I’m often apprehensive when I talk about foster care. My family began caring for foster children 13 years ago. In that time I’ve met people who praise us–calling us saints–and others who have horror stories about former foster parents. It’s an awkward conversation, and I never know how it’s going to go. But it’s part of my life, and a part of hers, and we talked about it.
That particular afternoon I was buzzing with excitement about a new baby who had just moved into our home. New in every sense. New to us, and new to a home of any kind. Straight from the hospital. I told the kids when I picked them up, “The new baby is at home! Let’s go see her.” Our 4-year-old had been expecting her arrival, and had been including her name in his bedtime prayers for a week. The whole household has been in anxious preparation for her homecoming. We love her already. She’s a blessing to us.
I told my new friend on our drive to her house about our baby who had just arrived. She told me about two children at the daycare who were just apprehended by the ministry that day as well. She told me about the mother crying. She told me how she felt broken herself. It had been a hard day at work; she was drained.
The irony set in on my drive home after I dropped her off. How do I balance my happiness with sympathy for another’s loss? It’s not wrong to cheer about a new baby, but can I communicate compassion at the same time? Foster care: awkward, yet again. Still, I know she and I connected as we talked in the van that day.
I think she sensed that we love these children. I hope she sensed my compassion for the mother separated from her kids that day. And I know that she reminded me of the other side of the story. The loss–sometimes due to addiction, violence, or poverty; sometimes politics. She wasn’t critical. She just shared about her day.
I love winter. Winter has a way of bringing people together. We complain together and we survive together. It reminds us that we need one another. Thank God for freezing rain.