This is Charley in his blanket. It's a red stadium blanket that once belonged to my grandmother, Florence McQuiston. In the morning Charley comes down the hallway with the blanket over his head. He then plops his rear end onto Brad's chair. "Find me Daddy," he says. What he wants is for Brad to open the front door and say, "Charley where are you?" Charley sits under the blanket making not a sound. Brad then runs around the room acting like he can't find him. "Charley, Charley, I can't find Charley. Come out, come out, wherever you are." The blanket then gets flung off his head, and with a big wide grin, he says, "Here I are, Daddy. See?" And then he tackles Brad. And Brad braces for impact. At 23 years old, Charley still plays. It's one of the things I love about him the most. He reminds us in the midst of everyday life that play is important. He works at his play, thinking up ways to play tricks on us, ways to get a good belly laugh. Like when he grabs Brad's feet and tickles them until Brad is screaming for mercy (he's left my feet alone since I hurt my leg - I guess there are some perks to a broken bone after all). But there is no mercy. It's a matter of getting the best yell out of Brad. Old Yeller, anyone? On those days when Brad is quiet, pensive, or too tired to play (rare, I know), Charley shrugs his shoulders. "Weller boke" (yeller's broke), he says, which means he retreats to his room to plot. To think up something else that can get at Brad. You can't buy entertainment like that. Did we know we'd signed up for this 23 years ago? Probably not. Did we know we'd wake up to find the dining room table set with our wedding china on those mornings when he couldn't sleep? Probably not. Did we know he would hide our car keys? Probably not. And had we had known, would we have gotten in line? The only answer to that is, yes. 23 years ago today, a 20 year old college student walked into an emergency room and gave birth to the rest of our lives. Other 23 year olds are serving their country. Getting an education. Working. Getting married. Where won't you find most 23 year olds? You sure won't find them hiding underneath a stadium blanket. Or playing with their Daddy. 23 years ago today, we were looking. He was waiting. We wanted to be parents. He needed a home. We are all searching. Looking for that one thing. That thing that gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. That thing that wraps itself around us. That thing that hugs us when we can't hug ourselves. That thing that turns life on its head, making us see the world in a different way. That thing that calls us out of ourselves. Amy Grant sings my favorite song, "Out in the Open." Come on out come on out Come on out come on out Out in the open Come on out come on out Come on out come on out Into the light There is no jury There is no judge Ready and waiting Are the steady arms of love
Some of us find it sooner than others. Brad and I found it 23 years ago. Wrapped in a baby blanket.