People cross our path every moment of our lives. Time and again, I have proven to myself that these encounters are not random but that these people enter our lives for special and unique reasons. I was recently asked to contribute a story for my friend’s 60th birthday celebration. I like to say that the universe sent me this special person at a moment in my life when I needed her the most.
In 1997, my husband and I were getting ready to move to Brussels, Belgium with his job. Not only were we excited about the expat opportunity, we were finally expecting our first child. During the week that the movers were packing our household goods, we received what seemed at the time the tragic news that our baby would need corrective plastic surgeries after his birth. We would arrive in a foreign land with no friends and family to deal with this challenge. Fortunately, my husband and I had each other and together we would begin to educate ourselves on the future medical needs of our baby. Our son was born in Brussels on his official due date of Christmas Eve, December 24, 1997. After researching doctors in the United States and in Belgium we chose to stay in Brussels for our son’s surgeries. His first surgery was scheduled for March of 1998 at the tender age of 2 months. I was very fortunate to have my mother come stay with us for the three months between my son’s birth and his first surgery. She was a huge support during that difficult time. The time between my son’s birth and his surgery remains a blur. I spent most of the time anticipating the surgical procedure while prioritizing his medical requirements. My husband, my mother, and I tried to maintain the semblance of a normal life. Together with my son, my mother and I would get out of the house and visit public places. We would often feel the glaring eyes of strangers staring at my son, pointing their fingers, and making comments in Flemish or French alluding to his condition. We tried to be courageous and ignore these people while moving on as naturally as we could. In hindsight, it was a very emotional time for us all.
One day my mother and I were at the tea room of the American Women’s Club of Brussels. We were having lunch and my son was quietly laying in his car seat on the floor between us. This was still before his surgery. All of a sudden this cheerful outgoing American lady showed up out of nowhere and said something like “Oh my word, he is so beautiful!” as she scooped my son into her arms without hesitation. Those words resonated in my head. Someone had called my baby beautiful. I had been so overwhelmed with my son’s medical needs, his day-to-day care, as well as blaming myself for what had happened, that I had not acknowledged to myself that he was indeed, BEAUTIFUL! It would take this complete stranger, an angel crossing my path, to reach my soul with such a powerful statement. And so this person would enter our lives. She was the friend that both my mother and I desperately needed at that time. She embraced us with her laughter, support, and friendship. Little did she know that the universe had sent her to us that afternoon, because we were all in need of some tender loving care and she was just the right person for the job! She has remained a dear friend. Our children call her Tia which means aunt in Spanish. So on this joyous 60th birthday celebration I wanted her to know how grateful I still am for that moment when she not only crossed my path, she joined it, sharing her love and friendship throughout these years and more importantly for being there at one of the most difficult times in my life. And proving once again that people enter our lives for very special reasons.
I hope that you too have someone special cross your path. I also hope that someday you serve as someone’s special person on their path.