Today is your birthday! Today, we celebrate you and the fact that you are here on this Earth. We celebrate your mischief, your funny little personality and most of all, your potential. Happy birthday to you, dear Prosper!
Last Saturday, I held you on my lap as an interpreter sat next to us so I could have him tell you in Creole that you no longer have to worry and just how much you are loved. You will be taken care of.
I asked you how old you are, and you said, “8.” I asked you if you knew what day your birthday is, and you said, “No.” The date that your life began got lost somewhere in the years you spent living in orphanages.
I pray every night before I go to bed, Prosper. I pray that God keeps my parents safe and healthy. I pray that he shows me the path I am supposed to follow for my life. I pray for world peace and the impoverished. And these days, Prosper, I pray for you.
I pray for something else every night, Prosper. Every single night, I pray that God brings me a good husband and that he lets me have a child.
I had a dream in July, Prosper.
I have dreams every, single night. Vivid, vivid dreams that a lot of times when I wake up, come true. I’ll never forget this dream, though, Prosper. Like every night, I prayed for that good husband and I prayed for that baby. And in my dreams that night, the message was sent to me that, “there is a boy.”
When I woke up, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t a baby of my own or that good man I’ve been looking for. I knew in my heart, rather, that “there is a boy” meant something else. Every day, I would ask God that He would show me what He meant. And luckily, Prosper, He didn’t keep me waiting long.
Just one week after that dream, Prosper, you came into my life.
Along with being prayerful and having many of my dreams come true, the other thing you need to know about me, is that I don’t believe in coincidences.
I live my life with intention and purpose and faith. And when you live your life with those three things, Prosper, there is no room for coincidences. My path was meant to collide with yours.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw you in Haiti. They told you I was coming. I don’t know what they said or who you understood me to be, but when I turned the corner, we both just looked each other in the eyes, raised our foreheads a bit and smiled a closed-mouth grin.
When I see you, Prosper, I see a little boy who is afraid to let people fully in. I see a little boy who is afraid to let people fully in, because he’s been hurt before. And in that, I see myself. I get it.
When I see you, Prosper, I see a little boy who is afraid to let himself go, to live freely, because he’s been hurt before. And in that, too, I see myself. I get it.
I will promise you this, though, Prosper. From July 2014 until the time I leave this Earth, I will walk alongside your life. I will never quit on you. I will never give up on you. I will always believe in you. I will always support you. My path was meant to collide with yours.
I spent last Sunday morning playing with you. We hit baseballs and I chased you on your scooter. You and that dang scooter go everywhere together! We worked on sharing with the other children, and well, you have some work to do in that area. I brought you a basketball and I taught you some dribbling tricks. I also watched as you played tricks on other kids. Namely, the kid who got a hold of your scooter. You hid around a corner, waiting for him to scoot by, with the baseball bat I also brought for you in your hand. Luckily, it was a soft bat. When that kid came around the corner on your scooter, you jumped out and WHACKED him with the bat. I shot you a mean look and said, “Prosper! No,” and you shrugged it off.
You’re too smart and cunning for your own good. And trust me, I get that. Well, at least the cunning part. There are no boundaries between you and what you want. And trust me, Prosper, I get that, too.
That afternoon, I left you and went with the adults to the beach. When I came back that night, you and I sat down to talk. You only speak Creole and I only speak English, so T-john interpreted for us. As I held you in my lap, and before I could say anything, you uttered something under your breath. I asked T-john what you said. “I was sad today,” he said.
I asked T-john to ask you why you were sad.
“Because you left,” he told me.
And in that moment, my heart fell to pieces. I knew I was leaving the next day. And this time, I was leaving for much longer than an afternoon.
I had T-john explain to you that I live in Miami and that I’ll be back to see you soon. As I pointed to my heart, I had T-john tell you that’s where I always carry you with me. You looked down at the floor and mumbled something else. T-john shot me a look of, “I don’t want to tell you what he said.” I waited a couple of seconds, grew impatient and then said, “What’d he say, T-john?”
“Take me with you.”
My heart shattered.
I told David later about our conversation and I think he saw the tears coming. He said what you said to me was a good thing. I looked at him and said, “How?!” He said it was good, because it shows that you are bonding with people.
You are finally free, Prosper.
Free to love, free to feel, free to give of yourself. The hurt is over. You will be taken care of.
I came to say goodbye to you last Monday afternoon. And when I got to the house, your parents were there. Your parents! There are no coincidences, Prosper.
From what I know, you haven’t seen your parents in years, when they left you at an orphanage. When I walked in, you were sitting on your dad’s lap and your mom was sitting to the side of you both. Your mother beamed. She looked so proud of you. You have your mother’s face. Your father was solemn and serious. You carry your father’s emotion. As you sat there, you showed none. Just as he showed none. I will never forget the look on all of your faces as I peered into that room.
As I looked at all of you, I thought to myself, “There are no coincidences.” There is no coincidence, Prosper, that on the day I left Haiti, your parents arrived to see you for the first time in a long, long time. There is no coincidence, Prosper, because the message to you should be this: You are beloved.
Like you, I needed to see your mother, too, Prosper. There are no coincidences. The thing I want most in this life and the thing that has eluded me the greatest, Prosper, is a child. Heaven help me–and it–if I have one. That baby will have to be pried from my fingertips before I hand it over to anyone. I can’t imagine the pain a mother must feel when she has to give up her son. You were woven in her womb, Prosper. She carried you and took care of you while you were growing inside of her to the best of her ability. I can’t imagine how badly your mother’s heart hurts, Prosper, that she doesn’t get to take care of you and watch you grow outside of her womb. No mother should have to make the decision your mama did, Prosper, to be forced to have strangers raise her baby. No mama should have to go years without seeing her boy, the creation that she made inside of her.
I wish your mama had more opportunities, Prosper. I wish she was educated. I wish Haiti’s economy was better. I wish there were valuable jobs and resources for her. I wish someone was there to empower her to find a way to keep you. I wish she could hold you and tell you how loved you are every night.
You are beloved.
Seeing your mother lit a fire in my heart, Prosper. A fire that made me realize that I will fight for your and Haiti’s well-being until the day I die. I want you to have your own babies, Prosper, and I want you to support them and give them good lives and watch them grow. I want you to share life with them.
David was talking to your parents and I could tell that the conversation had shifted from chit-chat to something more serious by the looks on their faces. I knew it wasn’t my place to be in the room, so I turned around and went downstairs to play with the other children. You were still on your dad’s lap when I walked away and I didn’t know if I’d be able to say goodbye to you before I had to head to the airport some 15 minutes later. Shortly thereafter, though, you came down the stairs. You grabbed your scooter, then came straight to me and buried your head in my side.
You kept uttering something. This time, though, T-john wasn’t there to interpret for us, so I had no idea what you were saying. You kept saying it though, as you looked at the ground and shuffled your feet around. I knew I had to find out what you were saying. I finally found someone who spoke Creole and she sat down and asked you in Creole what you were saying. You wouldn’t repeat it. Finally, she coaxed it out of you.
“Take me with you,” you said.
I got on an airplane last Monday, Prosper, and my heart hurt and was happy at the same time. It hurt, because I can’t take you here with me. It was happy, though, because we’re building a future for you in Haiti, your home. We’re building a future where hopefully, someday, your mama will find you again and see how well you’re doing. We’re building a future where hopefully, someday, you’ll see and understand your mama’s pride and love for you. We’re building a future where hopefully, Prosper, you will be able to give life to your mama.
David hasn’t told me yet the full extent of his conversation with your parents, but he will soon. When I landed on American soil last Monday night, though, there was an email waiting for me from him, and it said this:
“We did find out though, that his birthday is November 17, 2006–which means he turns 8 on Monday!! We’ll make sure to celebrate his life on that day!”
What a difference a day makes, Prosper. First, contrary to how old you thought you were, you actually gained a year! An extra year of life! I don’t know what better thing there might be to celebrate, my friend. An extra year of life is something many people would fight tooth and nail for and something women in Hollywood spend big bucks on!
More importantly, though, less than 24-hours after I asked you when your birthday was and my heart sunk when you didn’t know, you learned it. And for your little soul’s sake, Mr. I Get What I Want, you have no idea how excited I am that you don’t have to wait longer than a week to have your first birthday party. You have a way of managing to get it all, Prosper! There are no coincidences.
Today you will have one of those great, Haitian birthday parties. There will be loud singing and music and dancing and cake. You told me that Bensley is your best friend, and my hunch is he’ll wear his tuxedo t-shirt, which someday you’ll realize is pretty hilarious. As all of this celebration for YOU goes on, I imagine you’ll be riding your scooter throughout everyone at the party, carefree but still not letting the partygoers get too far into your space. Regardless, though, it’ll be a celebration. A celebration of the 8 years you lived that brought you to where you are today. More importantly, though, it will be a celebration of all that awaits you in this beautiful life that is yours. And so help me God, Prosper, I promise you this: Only goodness awaits you. You can let go, Prosper, because you are taken care of now.
Your life is valuable, Prosper.
And I would give everything in the world to be there today to watch you blow out the EIGHT candles on that cake.
Happy, happy birthday, precious, mischievous and smart boy. You are beloved.