It has been a long and lonely time since you left on that Saturday evening a year ago. In a voice weakened by the infection robbing you of life, you had told me calmly the week before, it would not be long. Somehow you knew, and with the kindness of spirit with which you were blessed, I know those words were meant to prepare me for what was approaching all too soon. God was calling you home. As you had laughingly told me some years back, when God calls you don't hang up.
Still, I remember stepping outside your bedroom to weep. It could not be. You could not leave me. It was a while before I returned to your bedside. Tears have always been a sign of weakness to me - a giving in to hopelessness. Hopelessness is most surely what I was feeling in those moments.
You had appeared to rally briefly when Rosemary and Robbie came to visit shortly after the doctors told us they had done all they could. Your dear friends since high school, they helped lift you into your wheel chair and roll you out to the sunroom - your favorite room - for one last time to sit and enjoy the view of the tranquil pond behind our home.
How many countless evenings we awaited the descent of nightfall in that very room, talking about whatever, as we gazed at ducks and geese, occasionally a Blue Heron, swim leisurely on the tranquil water, and occasionally wave to neighbors drifting slowly past our view in paddle boats and even a small pontoon boat.
After three trips to view homes in Indianapolis, we had narrowed our search to two. When I ask which one you liked best you replied without hesitation, "The one with the pond, Mom."
And so the home on the pond became our new home, far from Franklin, Tennessee, where you spent more than thirty years of your life. You left behind the two people who had adopted you as an infant; who loved you so much they refused a Georgia judge's offer to trade you for another baby after learning why you were not walking as early as other toddlers or speaking even simple words. You were born with cerebral palsy and macro glacia, which made it difficult for you to form words even after years of speech therapy.
I never met your mother. She died of cancer the same month I moved to Franklin. Shortly after my arrival you came into my life along with you wonderful father. Eight years later we both held him in our arms and wept together when he left us in April, 2000.
He left a will. His worldly goods he gave to you. And you, he gave to me. There could have been no greater inheritance.
I remember the scepticism of the judge when I requested to adopt you. He appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to insure you wanted me as a mother as much as I wanted you to be my son. After interviewing us both, the Guardian Ad Litem recommended the adoption.
Driving away from the courthouse, your adoptions papers in hand, I asked you how you wanted to celebrate. "Let's get a coke at Sonic, Mom." It was the first time you called me mom.
You lie beside your first parents now, back in Franklin. Here in Indianapolis our home is so quiet and so empty without you.
In those first weeks after you left I railed at God for taking you from me. A parent should die first, I reasoned. God seems to have overlooked my early anger and bitterness. He has comforted me with memories, wonderful memories of our eleven years together. I still go to Sam's nearly every Monday.
Like clockwork, every Monday, we went together to Sam's to buy a movie DVD and enjoy a hotdog and coke. We hardly ever missed a Monday at Sam's even when your legs were failing you, making a wheel chair necessary.
Sam's isn't the same without you. On the Mondays I drive there, I feel you are somehow closer. But then I must drive back home, the seat empty beside me.
I loved you dearly, Robert. You became the purpose that filled my life. You were not a child of my womb, but a child of my heart. You were a blessing I never expected, and for which I will always be grateful.