“You love to sketch,” I told him as he plopped down on the couch. “You should do a journal page for me.”
What would I put on it?
“Well, what does hope mean to you?”
It means you never give up, no matter how bad things get.
“That’s perfect. You should write that on there. It’ll give people a place to start journaling. But you should draw something, too — something that makes you think of hope.”
He comes back to the living room what seems like only 15 minutes later.
Here you go, Mom. This character’s name is Yoshina or sometimes he’s called Ageha. He fights to help people who can’t help themselves because someone saved him when he was little.
That’s when I fight to hold back tears. That’s when I ask if I can share a little bit of his story.
You can tell whatever you want, Mom. Maybe it could help somebody else.
And so I begin.
For the first five years of Jessie’s life, he lived with his biological parents and his half-sister. He has great memories of playing at parks and baking cookies, and he has memories of hiding in the bathroom until the police came to separate his fighting parents. He remembers his mom liking something that was milky white but that he was never allowed to touch and a rainy night when she could barely keep the car on the road.
Then, there was the time they left him and his slightly older sister in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart for several hours while they went to get drugs – and the times that the kids spent the night at the crack house. Times when his parents were home but unavailable, not quite functioning. Times when lunch was a tub of margarine. Times when homework went unchecked.
This is how his life started and that’s why at 14 he struggles to print legibly, why he always asks when dinner will be ready, why he looks a little lost, a little pained when I talk of trust, of lasting family ties.
Already he’s had more than one lifetime of loss. Already he knows too much of complicated relationships, of shaky love.
Already he speaks of hope as one who knows how badly it’s needed in this world – and already he understands its strength.
Don’t give up even when things are bad.
Today’s journal page was designed by my oldest son, Jessie. He loves video games, drawing and reading — especially manga, which are Japanese comics. He plays a mean game of Monopoly and shares my love of office supplies. He’s handsome, has just the faintest touch of a mustache and jeans that always seem too short. He’s one of the most generous people I know, and I’d like him even if he wasn’t related to me. To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here.
Here’s a glimpse…