This is my favorite time of year. It is the time of year I missed most during the almost-decade we lived in Arizona. The time when the breeze brings enough of a chill to warrant the wearing of sweaters and boots but not so much chill to yet require a full bundling up.
The time when bright leaves gleam against a clear blue sky and your coffee tastes like pumpkin and the next-door neighbors hoist a giant hairy spider into their tree. A time when the combination of those three things feels like pure magic.
At this time last year, Mike and I were making the final decision to pursue adoption through the foster care system. I remember the way we figuratively stamped the decision we’d been dancing around for months with a final, “let’s do it,” as we drove across our state, brushstrokes of red, orange and yellow zipping past us.
Not long after, I remember glancing in the rearview mirror as I drove Ryan to his preschool Halloween party and thinking, “Maybe next year there will be two kids dressed in costumes in my backseat.” I tried to picture it. Two giggling masked little faces. Two sets of hands clapping excitedly in anticipation of two pumpkin buckets full of candy.
I got my wish. This year, I will look in my rearview mirror to spy on two costumed little beings in my backseat: a spooky masked man and a superhero. I will spy on them to relish the moment and attempt to memorize the sight of them together. Just in case it is our only Halloween with two kids. Or just in case it is our only Halloween with these two kids.
It has been a year since we decided to set out on this journey. In the grand scheme of life, a year really isn’t all that long. But oh, how we have lived in the last year. The experiences we’ve had and the memories we’ve made are a vast and deep collection the likes of which we probably couldn’t have even imagined just two years ago.
We’ve been lucky enough to have our foster son, BlueJay, with us for part or all of three different seasons: We have walked together through blooming parks in the spring, we have splashed in warm lakes, and we have crunched through piles of leaves. I love that. I love that I have seen the proud smile he flashes me right after he picks me a flower, the ways his eyes light up with joy when he runs through a splash pad and the determined set of his jaw when he attempts to carry a pumpkin nearly half his size.
He tells me, though, that his favorite time of year is actually winter. He often asks me when it will snow so we can build a snowman.
It’s hard to know exactly what to hope for BlueJay’s future. It is an emotionally complicated internal debate. I find myself doing a lot of “I just hope he’s here at least through xyz-date-or-experience.” I hoped he’d be here long enough to come to the shore for our annual family vacation. Then I hoped he’d be here long enough to attend Ryan’s birthday party.
And now, I hope he’s here long enough that I can share a little bit of his favorite season with him the way he is now sharing my favorite season with me.
I hope he’s here long enough for us to build a snowman together.