Not so very long ago, Dear Reader, I gave an account of the season when I first took in my sweet foster baby Hopper. Day and night I rocked that little love as he grew out of troubled times into a more hopeful future.
When he was reunited with his birth mom, my recovery took some time as I went through all the stages of grief, but I could have never imagined God’s next steps in my life.
The following summer, I was introduced to a young man named Cardarion. He was what I call a wanderer.
At 17-years-old, he had a birth mom in the school district, a father out of state, and a Godly grandmother who lived 30 minutes away from the local high school. He stayed from place to place with friends for most of his high school years. Floating. On foot.
He held a retail job to keep his phone activated, but there were times he knocked on my door to find out if there was any work he could do around the house to earn money to pay his bills.
It wasn’t long before Cardarion became a part of our family, too. We worked in the garden side by side, planting bulbs in the earth that would someday become colorful flowers. He ate with us, and attended our church from time to time. He never took our kindness for granted.
Once when I attended a basketball game on his behalf, the coach pulled me aside and said that he was the most gifted athlete he had ever seen, but his focus was scattered.
One spring Cardarion decided to pad up for the first time and go out for football during spring practice. He was such a naturally gifted athlete that every college scout present kept asking “Who is that?!”
Shortly thereafter, Cardarion fell off the face of the earth without warning. By then, he had turned 18 and though he was still in high school, ready or not, he was his own man.
I would see him surface from time to time on social media, but always had concerns for where he was and how he was truly making it.
Fast forward to this football season when I happened to be traveling out of town one weekend to catch a game.
I stopped by a random fast food restaurant, and I could not believe my eyes.
There he was. Cardarion and a two-piece fried chicken meal. I checked my vision.
“Cardarion?”….I couldn’t believe it.
“Ms. Brandi!” he said as I busted up into the middle of a group of young black men and embraced him as a Mama would. My son gave him some kind of secret handshake of the brotherhood and a big man hug.
He told me all about his life now in culinary school. Within minutes, we caught up on everything.
Just before we parted ways, he grabbed my arm and gently pulled me back to himself.
“Ms. Brandi, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“Cardarion, do you have a kid?” I brashly asked.
“No ma’am, but I have one on the way,” he replied.
“I’m gonna make it, Ms. Brandi.” He said.
“I know you are.”
And with that, I pulled out a 20 dollar bill and gave it to him, hugged him one last time and then was on my way, not knowing when I would see him again, if ever.
Though it wasn’t a perfect life plan, it gave me hope to think that some small part of the family deposit we planted into Cardarion will he then plant into his offspring, like those secret flowers we once planted in the earth that came to full bloom one springtime.
Thus is the good deposit of fostering. You give all, dying to self, with only a hope that the seed will grow. From time to time, I will also run into my foster baby Hopper who is no longer a baby. At the ball game, at the mall, there he is.
He is happy and well-adjusted and doesn’t even realize that for just a season I was the only Mama he knew. And I suppose just as he has forgotten, so have I forgotten the pain of letting go. I take one look at him and say to myself so you are the one I was holding in the night. And somehow, someway, it’s alright. I can walk away and say I trust you, Lord. I trust you. Whether the secret flowers bloom or not, I will keep on planting.
Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.