It was a mild Saturday morning very much like this one on November 10, 2001. But it was an unusual Saturday because Tom and I took the car to Kingwood for a Taekwondo match being held in a gym there. It had been several years since we’d watched Jess spar and break boards, but on that day, it wasn’t Jess we were going to see.
I’ve mentioned before that for geographical and career reasons, I didn’t get to meet my late nephew Aaron until he was eight. He’d moved with his mother and younger brother to Austin, and both boys were involved in Taekwondo. Since they’d be coming to Kingwood for the tournament, Aaron’s mom Lisa suggested that it would be a good opportunity for us all to meet in person for the first time.
I was anxious all the way there. I’d be walking into a gym full of people. What if I couldn’t spot Lisa in the bleachers? How would I ever pick out one little boy I’d never met from a horde of children who’d all be dressed in identical uniforms? Tom reminded me that Lisa would be watching for us, and she’d point out Aaron and Alex to us.
So we stepped into the gym that morning. My glance swept the room–all those boys, all those faces. Then, as I described it to Tom as it happened, my heart leapt. I’d found Aaron immediately, even though he’d grown so much from the little boy whose pictures came in the mail. I just knew: He was my nephew and I fell in love every bit as much as I had the first time I saw Daniel, Josh, Sarah, and Gina as infants. We were linked by bonds between our hearts as surely as by strands of DNA.
From that day on, each time I saw Aaron, my heart would give that same little leap. Sometimes it’s impossible to believe it won’t happen again. He’ll always be here, though, in my heart. And as the years go by, Lisa and Alex will remain what they became that November day: family by choice, by love.